Testimonials from Past Fellows
Solidarium, 2011 Fellow (Brazil)
“The Unreasonable Institute was the most impressive, rewarding and crazy experience I have ever had in my entire life. It has deeply changed both my life and Solidarium. Highly recommended and if possible, I would do it again!” – Tiago Dalvi
Quick Snapshot: Solidarium connects local artisans living in poverty unable to sell their goods to major retailers like WalMart and JC Penney. So far they’ve enabled over 1,600 people to increase their incomes by 80%. At the Institute, Tiago built a relationship with Daryn Dodson of Calvert Fund, who provided him a $600,000 investment. He is now working to scale to 10,000 local artisans and to launch operations in the United States.
Eco-Fuel Africa, 2011 Fellow (Uganda)
“The Unreasonable Institute was some of the most valuable, interesting and fun few weeks of my life – and ones that dramatically exceeded all my expectations.” – Moses Sanga, Founder and CEO of Eco-Fuel Africa
Quick Snapshot: Based in Uganda, Eco-Fuel Africa transforms agricultural waste into clean-burning fuel, combatting deforestation. Moses started his company while living 17 kilometers away from internet access and with only $500. But he has since raised nearly $300,000 through Unreasonable connections, received a standing ovation for his speech on the main TED stage as TED Fellow (nominated by Unreasonable Mentor Kim Scheinberg), has been featured in the New York Times, and has improved the incomes of 3,500 farmers.
Liberation Chocolate, 2012 Fellow (Liberia)
“I got more done in 6 weeks than I had in 5 years. There cannot be an Institute more helpful.” – Sheikh Turay, Founder and CEO of Liberation Chocolate
Quick Snapshot: Sheikh’s company employs former child soldiers to grow cocoa beans and export chocolate, thus moving them out of poverty. As a former refugee, he started his company with a bag of rice. At the Unreasonable Institute, he rebranded, launched a website, secured a chocolate supplier in the United States, built a board consisting of 2 Unreasonable Mentors and 1 Unreasonable Angel, completed a full business plan, and learned how to more than double his revenue.
Waste Enterprisers, 2012 Fellow (Ghana)
“Imagine a 6-week overnight camp designed for adults who are intensely passionate about building and growing their social enterprises. My fellow entrepreneurs became family, and their drive and inspiration bred a palpable energy that permeated our house; I got coaching and feedback from some of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time; and my company got unprecedented exposure to the public, press, and investors.” – Ashley Murray, Founder and CEO of Waste Enterprisers
Quick Snapshot: Ashley and her team at Waste Enterprisers convert human waste into fuel. Before coming to the Institute, they had raised $250,000 from the Gates Foundation and the European Union. At the Unreasonable Institute, with the help of Unreasonable Mentor George Deriso, Ashley fleshed out a detailed roadmap for the next 12 months and revamped her business plan. She signed a contract with a Boulder-based green design firm, Point 380, to help optimize the design of her feces-to-fuel facility. Additionally, Ashley was able to dramatically decrease the amount of funding she required to get her facility built (and thus saved the amount of equity she had to give up in her company) with the help of Unreasonable Angel Drew Crouch. She had 22 investors commit to following up with her after our Investor Days event (July 19-20, 2012) and has $240,000 committed of her $310,000 raise.
Prakti Design, 2012 Fellow (Haiti, India, Nepal, Sudan)
“I have been running a company for 8 years and I sincerely don’t think I could have found this kind of learning and connections anywhere else. I would need years to get done what I accomplished in 6 weeks at the Unreasonable Institute.” – Mouhsine Serrar, Co-founder and CEO of Prakti Designs
Quick Snapshot: 250,000 people in 4 countries (India, Nepal, Haiti, and Sudan) use Prakti’s clean cookstoves. Because they reduce emissions and fuel use by 80%, Lawrence Berkeley Labs declared them the best on the Market. At the Institute, he locked up a partnership with Siegal + Gale (a world-renowned communications consultancy) for $10,000 in funds and $100,000 in communications and branding services. Unreasonable Angel Walt Pounds joined his team as his VP of Operations. He secured a $200,000 grant and a partnership with Cummins, the world’s largest engines manufacturer. He credits his ability to make both happen to his Unreasonable Training.
Kopo Kopo, 2010 Fellow (Kenya)
“Unreasonable Institute was a crash course in business 101. Without Unreasonable, I’m not sure I’d be where I am. I know I wouldn’t be as effective.” – Ben Lyon, Co-founder and VP of Business Developement of Kopo Kopo
Quick Snapshot: Kopo Kopo enables small businesses in Africa to conduct business transactions via mobile phone. Ben came into the 2010 Institute with a non-profit and realized there was a real market opportunity behind his venture. He handed over leadership of the non-profit to a colleague, built Kopo Kopo as a for-profit, secured 2 Unreasonable Mentors as Board Members, and raised his first $75,000 in seed funding at the Institute. He went on to raise $1.2 million from a syndicate led by Khosla Impact Ventures.
OneLeap, 2012 Fellow (United Kingdom)
“Beforehand, I was concerned about leaving my team for six weeks – particularly to attend a program with such diversity of entrepreneurs. I did not think the advice, given the breadth of companies, could be tailored enough. What I found, instead, was that mentors were carefully matched to relevant companies. We received the best advice we have ever received on OneLeap. There was also enough flexibility in the program to continue to work effectively with the team.
We were not actually seeking capital at the Institute but made incredible connections with investors, who we will speak to for our next round. The Institute was so good at supporting and developing our pitches, that by the end, investors sought us out and ahead of raising our next round, many have been extremely helpful in other ways, such as making introductions.
Through these mentors, other mentors and wider connections via the Institute, we have also formalized three partnerships with mentor and entrepreneur networks – and are working on another six.
We also learned an enormous amount – from improving and simplifying our pitch, to the nitty gritty of what to show in our financials for investors.
The Institute is remarkable in the balance it creates between bold aspirational ideas, inspirational people and a pragmatic, commercially-savvy and business-minded approach to bringing audacious ideas to (long-lived) life.” -Robyn Scott, Co-founder and CEO of OneLeap
Quick Snapshot: OneLeap helps entrepreneurs connect with the influencers who can get them the funding and traction they need. Robyn’s track record speaks for itself: she is a New York Times best-selling author, started another non-profit in Botswana serving mothers with AIDS, has worked for BP and the Financial Times, and was called one of WIRED Magazine’s 50 People About to Change the World in 2012.
ReWork, 2011 Fellow (USA)
“The difference between my venture before and after the Institute was night and day. We got more done in 6 weeks than we would have in a year.” -Nathaniel Koloc, Co-founder of ReWork
Quick Snapshot: Notable Outcomes from Unreasonable: Nathaniel and his team quadrupled their monthly revenue through improvements to business model from Unreasonable Mentors and locked up one significant client that enabled them to scale to a second US city. They also brought on Unreasonable Mentor Bruce Campbell as legal representation and Unreasonable Mentor Jane Miller as a board member. They then secured $50,000 from Unreasonable Mentors and Angels.