Back in March, I spent two weeks writing about some of the 36 young entrepreneurs who were each trying to raise $6,500 to get to the Unreasonable Institute in Boulder. This 10-week business incubator is designed to give these dauntingly brilliant, inspired, energetic and committed young innovators the tools to get their big ideas off the ground & out in the world where they can do some huge good.
Well, the Fellows are all collected in Boulder right now, learning up a storm. And it’s so exciting, I can hardly stand that I’m not there on the sidelines.
The ventures range from using bicycles to power technology in Tanzania, to using a handheld DNA diagnostic device to test for infectious disease in Venezuela; ending honor killings in Pakistan to using reality TV to empower entrepreneurs in Afghanistan. Each venture was selected for its ability to address a social or environmental issue, be self-sustaining within one year, have a model that can be scaled out of the originating country within 3 years, and eventually meet the needs of at least a million people. Now that’s setting the bar really, really high!
Luckily, the Fellows will have a lot of help from 60 Mentors who are the crème de la crème of leaders in business, social entrepreneurship, technology, engineering, international development, poverty alleviation, investment and government. These mentors come in to speak, meet each Fellow, stay overnight (all the Fellows live together in one big space) and pass along their wisdom to this next generation of do-ers.
The Fellows will also get gobs of help in financing, global networking, personal skills, web development and legal services – to focus & hone their ventures. And at the end of 10 weeks, with $150,000 committed from First Light Ventures, the entrepreneurs themselves will decide which four companies get the money from this Unreasonable Village Fund – working collaboratively not competitively, to determine which ventures represent the best investment of capital. What a concept!
Then on July 31, the public is cordially invited to attend “The best night ever!” as the website puts it (trust me, these folks don’t suffer from any lack of enthusiasm) when each of the 22 entrepreneurs will get six minutes on stage to prove to the world (and potential investors) that their venture is worthy of the resources that will support progress in our time.
To get your “hopey-changey fix” (as Ashoka writer Joelle Murphy puts it) watch Unreasonable TV as these remarkable young people bond, share, stimulate, challenge and support each other – despite any and all cultural, religious, educational and political differences. It really gives you an unreasonable amount of hope for a brighter future!
My $100 today is going to the Unreasonable Institute to use to support any of my peeps who might need some help with transportation costs, printer ink, ibuprofen – or whatever. I’ll be writing about a few more of the Fellows in the next week, and posting from Boulder in July – so stay tuned for more frothy UI updates!