You’ve heard us talk a lot about The Unreasonable Institute here on our blog. It’s a mentorship and training program for entrepreneurs tackling the world’s biggest social and environmental needs. If we piqued your interest with our profiles of entrepreneurs tackling everything from affordable shelters in Haiti to inexpensive solar powered water heaters, now it is your turn to get involved: the Unreasonable team has opened applications for its third annual, six-week acceleration program for 2012.
Why should this matter to startup entrepreneurs around the globe? Because the 25 chosen entrepreneurs receive mentorship from the likes of Phil McKinney, CTO of HP; Hunter Lovins, a Time Magazine Hero of the Planet; and Paul Polak, who has enabled over 19 million farmers to move out of poverty. They live with portfolio managers from at least 20 major investment funds, like Acumen Fund, Good Capital, and First Light Ventures. They pitch to at least 100 prospective funders and over 600 potential partners and supporters at a variety of public events. And, they join a global network of nearly 50 early-stage entrepreneurs, 100 mentors, and the Unreasonable Institute’s 140 partner organizations, including HP, Teach For America, and TED Fellows.
“And they do it all while living under one roof for six weeks with 24 like-minded peers dedicated to defining progress in our time,” says Unreasonable Institute Founding President Daniel Epstein. “Our goal is to arm these entrepreneurs with mentorship, capital, and one hell of a network so their ventures can scale to improve at least one million lives…and do that while making a profit.”
Competition for the limited slots at the Unreasonable Institute is fierce. “This past year we had over 1200 entrepreneurs from over 70 countries begin applications,” says Vice-President of Finance and Operations, Tyler Hartung. Of those 1200, 301 persisted through the rigorous, written application, ultimately whittled down to about 50 finalists through interviews. Those finalists were put to a unique challenge in order to get accepted to Unreasonable: “We challenge our finalists to raise the $10,000 it costs to attend the Unreasonable Institute on an online Marketplace,” explains Hartung. “The first 25 to do so are the ones we accept.” The catch is that entrepreneurs can only raise these funds in small increments, to avoid one wealthy benefactor bestowing the full amount on a finalist. “We want this to be the ultimate test of entrepreneurial mettle. Are you serious about coming to Unreasonable and rocketing your venture ahead?” says Hartung. “Then prove it: go get a hundred people to believe in you enough to sponsor your time with us and then we’ll believe it.” Last year, the 26 entrepreneurs chosen (an extra entrepreneur was chosen due to a tie on the Marketplace) raised a total of $210,000 from just under 4,000 people in 60 countries in 36 days.
Applicants will have until November 10th to submit their written applications and the finalist marketplace will launch January 5th, 2011. Reasonable entrepreneurs need not apply.