Story of Impact:
Aunt Bertha

Before Unreasonable

Ernie Gray

Ernie Gray

Aunt Bertha founder Erine Gray participated in the Unreasonable Institute in 2012. At that time, he had launched, a web platform that makes it easy to find and apply for free and low-cost programs of any kind, anywhere – from food, housing and health to education, work and retirement. At the same time, it helps innovative foundations, nonprofits and city governments reach more people and serve their communities better.

When Erine came to the Institute, Aunt Bertha had around 10,000 unique users and had earned a little bit of service revenue, but Erine was scraping by, paying his one part-time employee out of his own savings. In his own words, “I was in the start-up stage where I had no idea whatsoever what I was doing. I knew how to build the product, but not how to build a successful company.”

Unreasonable Difference

With a little help from Unreasonable, Aunt Bertha is thriving!

  • 80% of Aunt Bertha’s initial round of funding ($100,000) came from Unreasonable Angels who Erine met at Investor Days. When it came time for Aunt Bertha to raise a second round ($845,000), one of those Unreasonable Angels flew to Austin to coach Erine on defining his ask, picking a valuation, and structuring the deal. He and another Angel both re-upped their investments, which Erine credits with sending a strong signal to other funders, who then committed to invest.
  • Erine describes the pitch training and practice he received at Unreasonable as “unbelievably helpful, far better than any of the other incubators” and credits it with making him a far more confident presenter and increasing his ability to attract resources.
  • Erine was selected as a 2014 TED Fellow after meeting the head of the TED Fellows program, a friend of Unreasonable, at the Unreasonable Climax. He was encouraged to apply by his Unreasonable classmates, and the references in his application were all provided by members of the Unreasonable Tribe: A fellow Unreasonable entrepreneur, an Unreasonable mentor, and an Unreasonable founder!
  • According to Erine, “What separates Unreasonable from other accelerators is that the staff genuinely care about your success. And that is abundantly clear, from before you even get to the Institute and forever after. I can pick up the phone for support or guidance anytime, and often do. Tyler even joined me for my first meeting with an investor because I didn’t have the confidence to do it myself. From that meeting, I got my first investment.”
  • When Erine was struggling to raise his first major round of funding, Unreasonable connected him with fellow Unreasonable entrepreneur and seasoned fundraiser Dan Rosen, who provided support and advice. Now having raised over $1M himself, Erine provides advice to new Unreasonable entrepreneurs.
  • Erine describes the Unreasonable community as vital to his success: “Being able to Skype with other entrepreneurs, share struggles, and brainstorm is the most important thing you can get out of an accelerator. It’s a very close bond that you’ll always have. There’s a lot of talk about funding but having a small group of like-minded people supporting and rooting for you is even more valuable.”

Aunt Bertha Today

Since participating in the Unreasonable Institute, Aunt Bertha has raised over $1,000,000, increased its user base by 10x, and landed contracts with a number of significant enterprise customers, including the City of Austin, AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons), the Robin Hood Foundation, Critical Mass, Wellpoint Health, and Superior Health. The team has grown to 9 full-time employees in Austin, supported by more than 20 full-time contractors. With over 105,000 unique users, Aunt Bertha has made it easy for thousands of people to connect to the programs they need.

Why Unreasonable?

Erine says of his Unreasonable experience: “Having gone through other incubator and accelerator programs, the Unreasonable Institute was the best. And it’s not a close call – Unreasonable is magnitudes better. It gave me incredible value for my time and money commitments.”