New York

Columbia University (Map) // May 19 – 23, 2016 (Schedule)

From May 19th to 23rd, Unreasonable Lab NYC ran an Investment Preparedness Lab, a 5-day accelerator designed to help social ventures understand the fundraising process and become ready to take on investment. Our ultimate goal is to get more funding flowing to highly impactful ventures.

Why New York City:
The Big Apple is perfect: entrepreneurial and unreasonable. Social entrepreneurship has thrived in what is one of the most charitable and entrepreneurial cities in the world. From mentors, to funders, to corporations, to international government, to universities, New York City is the perfect home for social entrepreneurship. So now we want to directly support impact ventures and help them tap into this rich ecosystem of support.

Get Involved: Apply to be an entrepreneur, become a mentor, be a sponsor, or help our Lab team find entrepreneurs. Email Us.

The Problem

The NYC Investment Preparedness Lab
Fundraising can be a hard, confusing, and long process. How much money should I raise? What type of capital? Whom do I talk to and how do I build relationships with funders? What should I do in an investor meeting? How to I get the money into our bank account so I can get back to building my business? Having an answer to these questions often translates into successfully closing a round of funding. But the reality is that only a handful of entrepreneurs have a clear understanding of the process (and how long it takes) before they start fundraising. They get lost and without direction, they do not take the lead and closing a round becomes painful and time consuming.

The Lab & Curriculum

The Investment Preparedness Lab is designed to do one thing: help entrepreneurs be more prepared to raise funding. Entrepreneurs will:

Understand the steps of the investment process and what is needed at each step.

Diagnose each venture’s investment preparedness and build a full plan for funding.

Meet with actual funders to get feedback and practice building investor interest.

Daily Schedule

The curriculum of the Lab oscillates between in-classroom workshop time and tons of hands-on work time.

  • Connector.

    Day 1

    Starts with a brief orientation and workshop that demystifies the fundraising process, followed by an afternoon dedicated to starting to build a strategic plan.

  • Connector.

    Day 2

    Starts with building financial statements then learning about various types of capital. During the afternoon entrepreneurs will design a fundraising action plan.

  • Connector.

    Day 3

    Begins with a workshop on how to build powerful relationships with funders, followed by a pitch workshop. Then entrepreneurs will build a massive list of potential funders.

  • Connector.

    Day 4

    Capital Advisor day when experts in early stage funding will attend the Lab to work directly with and give feedback to the entrepreneurs.

  • Connector.

    Day 5

    Spent on deal negotiation, getting important due diligence materials together, and designing an action plan for the next three months.

Tangible Outcomes

By the end of Lab entrepreneurs have something to show for their work. They have:

  • Learned what the fundraising process looks like from start to finish and the elements needed to succeed in raising funds
  • Diagnosed how prepared (or unprepared) they are on these various elements of funding preparedness, giving them a snapshot of where they are
  • Actively worked on various elements to become more prepared to raise funding (for example: develop their financials, write a strategic plan, clarify their funding ask, develop their pitch materials)
  • Created a list of at least 30 potential funders and learned quick research and outreach techniques to find and connect with even more when they leave
  • Learned a methodology for how to build strong relationships with funders – relationships that get stronger over time which will help make their funding case stronger over time
  • Completed funding readiness “reality checks” with 4 – 5 real funders and received real and honest feedback on their investment preparedness
  • Designed a strategic plan to become funding ready and identified the tools to get there
  • Drastically increased their confidence level about leading an investor meeting which will lead to far more productive meetings with future potential funders

Summer 2016 Organizations

From New York to Kenya, sustainable cars to rooftop farms, Unreasonable Lab NYC ventures
are creating Unreasonable Impact.

True School
Empowering educators to reimagine learning and actualize change.

Eat Offbeat
Delivery of authentic ethnic meals made by refugees in NYC.

Empowering underserved children to take their learning into their own hands.

Dagmy Motors
We build and sell affordable battery packs, electric vehicles, and EV tech.

Catapultian Foundation
Your Charitable Giving Savings Account.

Torus Teens
Connecting teens to life changing out-of-school programs.

Up Top Acres
Commercial Rooftop Farming

A virtual college counselor to guide students to (and through) college

An on demand courier service focusing on rural areas of Kenya.

Flip it Forward
Social Dreaming: Build the World You Want to Be a Part of.


Nick Jekogian
CEO of Signature Group Investments & Presidential Realty Corp., Paradigm Initiative Nigeria board member, & Ashoka mentor.

Tami Kesselman
CEO TPL Alpha Advisory & SolveForGood, Co-Chair of the United Nations Impact Investing Summit, & AIESEC Executive Committee member.

Rob Kaplan
Managing Director of Closed Loop Fund, a social impact fund investing $100M to increase the recycling of products and packaging.

Sarah Holloway
Professor of Social Entrepreneurship, Management, & co-founder of NYC Foundation for Computer Science Education.

Rui Miranda
Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Nutri Ventures, Watermelon Productions, Co-founder of Red Star, and Business Angel.

Bruce Usher
Director of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise & former CEO of EcoSecurities Group, the world’s largest carbon credit company.

Bulbul Gupta
Board Chair of Upaya Social Ventures, Cornerstone Capital Group Advisor, & former COO Boundless Impact Investing.

Laura Koch
CEO for a “B Certified Company”, Senior Advisor for Ashoka, YPO Social Impact Network Officer, & board member of Grameen Prima Care.

Douglas Mellinger
Managing Director, Clarion Capital Partners, Founder of Foundation Source, & Co-Founder of The Young Entrepreneurs Organization (EO).

Christopher Reim
Managing Director, Community Development Venture Capital Alliance, involvement in $600 million+ investments, Adjunct Professor.

Mark Caron
Co-founder of companies totaling $600M annual revenue, Board Member of Global Workers Justice Alliance, Angel Investor.

Shana Dressler
Director of Google’s 30 Weeks incubator, Founder of Social Innovators Collective, Global Cocoa Project, & Global Giving Circle.

Daniel Karpantschof
Co-founder, Nexus Global Youth Summit on Innovative Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship.

David Dietz
Founder and CEO of, an online retailer of sustainable style. Speaker for 500 Startups’ Geeks on a Plane.

Charles McCormick
Publisher of the Founder Accord, a basic deal sheet among founders that sets a new entrepreneurial industry standard.

FAQ’s & More About This Program

Application and Selection
When applications open in mid-March you will be able to apply at the top of this page. There will be a pink button that says “Applications Open // Apply Now”.
Entrepreneurs who are eligible are:

  • Committed to social and environmental impact with their venture
  • Idea-to-early-stage ventures that are looking to raise capital in the next 6-12 months
  • For-profit or non-profit
  • 18 years of age or older
This Investment Preparedness Lab is designed for early- to mid-stage entrepreneurs who are:

  • Preparing to take on capital in the next 6-12 months.
  • Have generated sales and have paying customers for their product or service.

The Investment Preparedness Lab can serve entrepreneurs in the prototype/pilot stage, the early customer traction stage, and established customer traction stage.

Entrepreneurs will complete the short online application (link will be added above). Then the Unreasonable Lab Team will review all submitted applications and schedule 30-minute interviews with those who move on. After the interviews, 10-12 entrepreneurs will be offered a spot in the Lab.
It’s free for entrepreneurs to attend.
Lab Details
If you are accepted to attend the Lab, we will ask that you attend the Lab in its entirety. The curriculum is cohesive and builds upon itself, meaning that if you miss a day, you will be at a significant disadvantage.
Each Day is different!

For investment preparedness, the Lab will feature both time in the classroom and time dedicated to working with mentors. Throughout the course of the Lab, you will have plenty of time to work and rest. Taking time to digest the material is an important piece of acceleration!

Day 1: Day 1 starts with a brief orientation and workshop in the morning, followed by an afternoon dedicated to building a strategic plan.

Day 2: Day 2 starts with two workshops designed to build the entrepreneurs’ financial skills. During the afternoon entrepreneurs will design a fundraising action plan.

Day 3: Day 3 begins with a workshop on how to build powerful relationships, followed by a pitch workshop. Then entrepreneurs will build a massive list of potential funders.

Day 4: Day four is Capital Adviser day when experts in early stage funding will attend the lab to work directly with the entrepreneurs.

Day 5: Day 5 is spent on deal negotiation, getting important due diligence materials together, and designing an action plan for the next three months.

No, you are responsible for your own housing.
Be a Supporter
If you are interested in being a mentor we would love to have a conversation with you.

Click here to email us to discuss becoming a mentor.

We call the people who help us find venture Pipeline Partners. If you are interested in helping us find ventures we would love to have a conversation with you. Click here to email us to discuss becoming a Pipeline Partner.
We would love to explore sponsorship opportunities with you. Click here to email us to discuss sponsorship opportunities.
Click here to email us with a description of your background and how you’d like to be involved.


Here’s who made this possible through their generous contributions.
Email Us to discuss sponsorship opportunities.

Our Team

Here is the team that made this happen.

Josh Jacobson, Founder
Founded a social venture, is a mentor for Startupbootcamp, ran Aunt Jemima, & is a leader in the effective altruism movement.

Veni Jayanti, Founder
Founded a venture creating commercialization channels for victims of violence & led curriculum for an Indonesian impact accelerator.

Nicolas Toro,

Co-founded an immigrant advocacy NGO, a social sector consultancy, and a retail enterprise funded by a top Colombian VC firm.

Joseph Heritage, Founder
Founded a 25 acre farm in Kenya that employed 20 refugees and financed 75 scholarships for secondary education.

Alex Simon, Chair of Mentor Search
Led a social venture accelerator, mobilized student involvement in microfinance, & cofounded a catering business at age 13.