San Diego

3rd Cohort // April 20-24, 2017

Apply Now: Deadline March 16

This is a 5-day Business Model Validation Lab, powered by Impact Without Borders and made in partnership with The Unreasonable Institute. This is designed for early-stage entrepreneurs that are tackling environmental, financial, health, and social problems. It is designed to help you rapidly identify and validate the foundational assumptions of your business.

Why San Diego:
Impact-minded entrepreneurs are launching startups at the fastest rate in the history of our region. Record numbers of young people are graduating from postsecondary institutions hungry to join the local talent pipeline and put down roots here. Baby boomers are retiring – and starting second careers with social focus – in large numbers. The region is the most globally-minded it has ever been. These ideas and the energy and passion of inspired youth and professionals need community in which to thrive. We look forward to building strong social and financial ties that transcend borders in the San Diego-Tijuana megaregion. Impact Without Borders is committed to unleash the full potential of social entrepreneurs.

What is Impact Without Borders? Impact Without Borders invests in the social capital of our communities and our binational region by educating aspiring impact makers, equipping emerging leaders with tools and technologies to drive innovation and change, and accelerating the next generation of social entrepreneurs.

Get Involved: Read on to learn how to apply to our lab, become a mentor, sponsor, or volunteer.

“The concentration of time and focus and mentoring and support was really a game changer. We were definitely at a point where we were not moving as quickly as we needed to, and going down to San Diego to meet the other teams and mentors gave us a real sense of community and go-gettedness.”
Kevin Adler, Founder and CEO of Miracle Messages. Raised $200,000

The Problem

The early stages of a startup are marked with questions. Who is my customer? What problems do they have? Do I have a solution to their problems? What are they willing to pay? Will I be able to break even? An entrepreneur’s ability to quickly convert these questions into answers is one of the few characteristics that separates successful startups from failed ones. The problem is that few entrepreneurs know the rapid and systematic approach required to answer these questions. They go too slow, they focus on the wrong things in the wrong order, and they move forward without truly validating a business model.

The Lab & Curriculum

The Business Model Validation Lab is designed to do one thing: provide entrepreneurs with a step-by-step methodology to rapidly and systematically validate their venture’s business model. Entrepreneurs will:

Identify the foundational assumptions that underpin your venture.

Design and run experiments to validate / invalidate the foundational assumptions (through customer discovery and rapid prototyping)

Meet with mentors to get feedback and develop next steps.

Daily Schedule

The curriculum of the Lab oscillates between in-classroom workshop time and in-market customer interaction time.

  • Connector.

    Day 1

    Starts with orientation and workshop on assumption mapping in the morning. The afternoon is spent interacting with target customers.

  • Connector.

    Day 2

    Starts with a workshop in the morning on how to rapidly prototype. In the afternoon entrepreneurs will physically build a prototype.

  • Connector.

    Day 3

    Starts with a workshop on how to build powerful, long-term relationships with mentors, funders, and partners. In the afternoon, entrepreneurs spend time validating cost assumptions.

  • Connector.

    Day 4

    Mentor Day Part 1! 10-15 mentors will attend the Lab to work directly with entrepreneurs. The afternoon is dedicated to strategic planning.

  • Connector.

    Day 5

    Mentor Day Part 2! Entrepreneurs will meet even more mentors after their reflection the previous day. The afternoon builds momentum and the lab concludes with a module on Impact Measurement.

Tangible Outcomes

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

  • Learned a repeatable methodology for how to do customer discovery
  • Built 2-3 prototypes of a key element of their venture
  • Tested prototypes with real customers
  • Learned how to build and maintain mentor relationships
  • Met and received feedback from 6-10 world-class mentors per team
  • Conducted a break-even analysis of their business and identified the key cost and financial assumptions of their business
  • Built out a basic budget and financial model
  • Created a 6-month operating plan
Thank you for a very productive lab. I am amazed at how far I have come in my thinking from last Friday morning to this one. Truly accelerated!
Dwayne Crenshaw, CEO and CoFounder RISE San Diego, October 2016 Cohort. Raised $65,000

FAQ’s & More About This Program

Application and Selection
The open application window for this program is open. To apply, please click here: Unreasonable Lab San Diego – Apply.
Entrepreneurs who are eligible are:

  • Committed to environmental, financial, health, or social impact with their venture
  • Idea-to-early-stage in their venture’s development
  • Entrepreneurs in the socialtechenvironmental
    and health/wellness
  • Based in the San Diego-Tijuana region.
  • For-profit or non-profit, or hybrid models.
  • 21 years of age or older.

Here’s a bit more on location:

  • If I am an entrepreneur from an adjacent location to San Diego-Tijuana. Can I apply for this Lab? If you are outside San Diego-Tijuana you can still apply. But please know that we will prioritize entrepreneurs from San Diego-Tijuana. But if you can make a compelling case, we would consider your application.
  • My venture’s headquarters are here in San Diego-Tijuana, but my operations are elsewhere? Can I apply? It depends. The Business Model Validation Lab is designed for ventures to interact directly with their target market during the Lab. For example, during the Lab entrepreneurs will go and do “customer discovery” by interviewing people (in-person) in their target market. If you are unable to do this because your venture’s operations are elsewhere, then the Lab will be less valuable to you. In any case, please feel free to reach out us if you have specific questions about this.
This Business Model Validation Lab is designed for idea-stage to very early-stage entrepreneurs who are trying to figure out:

  • Who their target customer is
  • What, exactly, is the problem their target customer has
  • What their product/service offering looks like (they haven’t built a prototype yet or have just begun building prototypes) and if it meets the needs of the target customer

Entrepreneurs are too late if:

  • They know (with a very high level of confidence and specificity) who their customer is
  • They know (with a very high level of confidence and specificity) what problem their customer has
  • They know (with a very high level of confidence and specificity) that their solution solves their customer’s problem
  • They have a product/service that is in mainstream production
  • They have substantial sales
Entrepreneurs will complete the short online application (Unreasonable Lab San Diego – Apply). Then the Impact Without Borders 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.
We are investing in you and want you to have skin in the game! The program investment is as follows: $500 for 1st person of a company; $250 for each additional.

The Lab Team will work with any entrepreneur who is accepted to attend the Lab but unable to pay. Do not let the cost prohibit you from applying for the Lab!

Lab Details
5 Days. October 14-18, 2016
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!

Business Model Validation Lab:

The Lab will feature both time in the classroom (learning principles of how to validate your business model) and time in market with your customers where you will be interviewing them and having them interact with your prototypes. There will also be one entire day 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: Starts with a brief orientation and workshop in the morning, followed by an afternoon interacting with target customers.

Day 2: Starts with a workshop in the morning on how to rapidly prototype. In the afternoon, entrepreneurs will physically build a prototype and then go out again to meet with target customers.

Day 3: Starts with more time interacting with target customers before having an afternoon workshop on how to build powerful relationships with mentors, funders, and partners.

Day 4: Is a mentor day when 15-25 mentors in total will attend the Lab to work directly with entrepreneurs.

Day 5: Begins with a workshop in the morning on how to validate the cost assumptions in each venture before spending the afternoon working on strategic planning. Then the Lab concludes.

You will only gain access to the network of mentors and entrepreneurs who attend this Lab.
Be a Supporter
If you are interested in being a mentor we would love to share a conversation with you.

Click here to email us to discuss becoming a mentor.

We call the people who help us find ventures Pipeline Partners. If you are interested in helping us find ventures we would love to share 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.

We need emotional and financial support!

Send us a note and tell us what you’d like help us with.

The Impact Without Borders Team

We are a diverse, innovative team of social entrepreneurs, educators, investors, nonprofit professionals, and philanthropic leaders deeply committed to building a thriving impact economy in the San Diego – Tijuana region. We believe in accelerating progress towards a better world by focusing on the intersection between money and meaning. Together, we are Impact Without Borders.

Zuleyma Bebell

Millard Chan

Rodrigo Guevara
Recruitment & Outreach 

James Halliday 
Recruitment & Outreach 

BH Kim
Accelerator Co-Lead

Adam Powers
Community & Outreach

Mia Mian
Recruitment & Outreach

Jarrod Russell
Recruitment & Outreach

Kaison Tanabe
Accelerator Co-Lead & Facilitator

Thank you so much for your feedback and guidance as we went through Unreasonable Labs. I am so grateful to have been chosen to participate and I can’t emphasize enough what an incredible experience I had– both personally and in terms of our project. Sara Bell, LICR Professional Development

Our 2nd Cohort Social Ventures (October 2016)

Iana Castro
Rafael Castro
Adam Kay
BrightSide Produce
At BrightSide Produce, we strive to eliminate food insecurity in low-income communities through people and produce.

Elizabeth Washburn
Daniel Lopez
Combat Arts
Combat Arts facilitates access to the Arts for combat veterans to heal, engage, learn, and gain economic opportunities

Flora Wonsun Baik
Raymond Wu
Good Journey
Good Journey educates, compels, and celebrates consumers who integrate stewardship into their everyday purchases.

Tania Azar
Katelyn Kent
Reality Changers
Reality Changers transforms lives, schools, and communities by providing youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with the academic support, financial assistance, and leadership training to become first generation college students.

Sara Bell
Anjana Srivatsan
LICR Professional Development
Our organization helps scientists build the skills they need to influence the world.

Jessica Kort
Foothold Foundation
Foothold Foundation propels collective action for social impact

Erik De La Cruz
Re(Brine) helps to maintain the ocean’s natural chemistry and re-purpose the brine disposed from desalination plants.

Dwayne Crenshaw
RISE San Diego
RISE fosters urban leadership and civic engagement.

The most important thing I learned at the lab was what my role is. As a new entrepreneur, I didn’t know what my job was. Is it to bring in money? Is it to be the public face? Through this lab I was able to break down what my job really is. I also got over the fear of talking to people. I can spend hours researching online, but when it comes down to it, I learned to just pick up the phone, call, and find out the answer in a matter of minutes.Flora Baik, CEO & Founder, Good Journey

2nd Cohort Mentors (October 2016)

Interested in mentoring and joining this impressive group? Email us.
(Click Photo for LinkedIn Profile)

Alicia A. Quinn
Director of Programs, Mission Edge

Annie Mak
Scientific Manager, Life Sciences
Seasoned scientific manager who executes with sense of urgency and delivers high caliber results.

Ashok Kamal
Executive Director, Tech Coast Angels – San Diego

Brian Dirkmaat
Partner, Coast Law Group
I work with creative entrepreneurs and business owners in all areas of business transactions and provide legal solutions that accelerate innovation.

Chris Fessenden
Founder, The Artist Odyssey
The Artist Odyssey is a global streaming video network focused on the arts. Our missions are to connect the world’s artists and audiences and to enrich arts education.

David Lynn
Investment Manager
The Price Group

TPG provides support to Price Philanthropies, Price Charities, and other Price enterprises, for which I manage the investments, particularly the equity hedge and derivative programs.

Erin Milley
Accelerator Director, Agora Partnerships
The mission at Agora Partnerships is to accelerate the shift to a more sustainable, humane, and successful economy in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Guillermo Mejía
Managing Director
Mexico Innovation Development Hub (MindHub)

MIND Hub is a Tech Incubator in Tijuana, Mexico, focusing on early stage Software StartUps.

Justin Apger
Chief Operating Officer,
Mission Edge

Experienced leader with a true love of operations; energized by the challenge of either fixing something that is broken or identifying opportunities to help an organization grow.

Ken Davenport
Chief Executive Officer,
Mission Edge

Responsible for major donor management and public outreach of Mission Edge, a San Diego-based social enterprise 501(c)3 that helps social entrepreneurs and nonprofits focus on their mission.

Kristopher Schlesser

At LuckyBolt we think it should be everyone’s right to eat the best food available in their local area. It shouldn’t be a luxury or a hassle. Our mission is to make it easy and affordable for everyone to get good food and support their local farms and artisans.

Laura Brenner Kimes
Co-Founder and Director of Ecosystem Services
Fresh Coast Capital

Fresh Coast Capital is an impact-driven real estate investment firm that redevelops highly distressed, vacant properties into working landscapes such as tree farms, urban agriculture and other green infrastructure projects that revitalize neighborhoods, clean up soil and groundwater, and increase land values.

Lee Barken
Chief Community Officer, CollectiveSun
CollectiveSun® works exclusively with nonprofit organizations to help finance sustainable solar power projects.

Elenore Garton
Senior Principal
LeSar Development Consultants

I am working to develop an ecosystem approach to Impact Investing in the San Diego region and to direct more private capital towards the nonprofit and social enterprise sectors.

Rama Padmanabhan
Partner, Cooley LLP
Specializes in all types of public and private merger and acquisition transactions, including options to buy, cross border transactions, joint ventures and other complex transactions.

Renee Zau

DonationMatch is a marketing platform that streamlines product placement opportunities for companies at school and charity events, and donation procurement for hosting organizations. Cause marketing and event fundraising mentor.


Scott Marchand
Director of Nonprofit Services, Mission Edge
I love to improve business processes that help others do their jobs more effectively. Identifying business objectives and intended outcomes of a program or initiative are foundational activities for successful results.


Sneha Jayaprakash

Built and structured a team of 10 passionate individuals.
Designed and developed an app to apply game design and social networking toward community service.

Stepheni Norton
Owner / Farmer
Dickinson Farm – an heirloom market garden

A 100% Veteran owned small plot urban family farm, growing a variety of heirloom fruits, vegetables & herbs on the grounds of the historic Wallace D. Dickinson House.


Topher Williams
CTO, MomCo
Serial Entrepreneur as well as an Intrapreneur, Consultant, and Advisor.


Torrie Dunlap
Kids Included Together

Kids Included Together’s purpose is to create stronger, richer communities where all kids, regardless of ability, are meaningful participants.

Pipeline Partners

Pipeline Partners are organizations that help us find the entrepreneurs. Like us, they support entrepreneurs doing good in the world. If you want to become a Pipeline Partner for this Lab, please Email us.


Here are early supporters who made this possible.
Email us to discuss sponsorship opportunities.

Our 1st Cohort Social Ventures (May 2016)

Lydell Aaron
An energy harvesting systems company that develops “Beartha,” an automated, small-scale, scalable waste-to-energy device that converts food waste to energy in the form of biogas.

Lauren Cusitello
Crossroads Justice Center of San Diego
A nonprofit legal startup that offers low-cost holistic representation to people who are fighting deportation, incarceration, or civil rights violations.

Stepheni Norton
Dickinson Farm
National City residents create self-sufficient small plot urban farms, learn how to grow their own crops, donate the extra yield to other families in need and be licensed to sell their own produce via a mobile farmer’s market.

Owen Barrett
Helps organizations upgrade their lighting systems to LED technology through Lighting as a Service (LaaS). Partners are incentivized to use Lumeo’s LaaS platform via compensation for annual maintenance and profit sharing.

Joseph French
Social Kitchen
Our experiential program: (1) identify existing and aspiring youth entrepreneurs from high-minority, low-wealth communities (2) implement a training curriculum emphasizing leadership and business development (3) match trained youth with small businesses to accelerate growth, and (4) provide life-long business support to both the youth entrepreneurs and businesses.

Tiernan Seaver
Stay Local Bookings
Online booking platform that works exclusively with locally owned and operated lodgings. By compiling a database of vetted locally owned lodgings we make it easier for tourists to identify and support local businesses throughout the world. We partner with these local business owners in popular tourist locations to help them reach an international market of travelers looking for authentic cultural experiences.

Kevin Adler
Jessica Day
Miracle Messages
Acclaimed social venture that helps homeless people reunite with their long lost loved ones via social media and short video messages, recorded and delivered by volunteers. Our mission is to mobilize the internet to reunite the world, helping 1% of the 100 million homeless people on earth reconnect with their loved ones by 2020.

Wei Fan
Guo (Vector) Li
TUTU Tech & Culture
Provides catered products and services to specifically serve the unmet needs of the LGBTQ+ community. TUTUroomii is an APP that helps LGBTQ+ people and allies find ideal roommates, new friends, and housing resources/services within the LGBTQ+ community.

Ryan Ginard
Mike Aguilar
Our Donor Advised Fund platform helps users invest their spare change automatically by rounding up transactions from everyday purchases to the nearest dollar and depositing it directly into a charitable checking account. Users can then make grant recommendations from the balance in their account to a 501c(3) nonprofit at any time but receive immediate tax benefits at a higher rate.


1st Cohort Mentors (May 2016)

The twenty-two amazing mentors you see below participated in the first BMV cohort!

Interested in mentoring and joining this impressive group? Email us.
(Click Photo for LinkedIn Profile)

Nancy Sasaki
Executive Director, Alliance Healthcare Foundation
Leadership, compassion, innovation, and excellence in the nonprofit sector, profoundly affecting the lives of the underserved – the poor, working poor, children and homeless.

Amanda Goldberger
Founder, IMPACT Strategies San Diego
Provides strategic guidance to individuals, foundations, businesses, and nonprofits so they can be more thoughtful and have greater impact with their philanthropy and programs.

Andy White
Startup Advocate at Downtown San Diego Partnership
Create an environment to foster the growth of startups in downtown San Diego. Promote the inclusion of historically underrepresented communities.

Bill Harrington
Managing Director
Vista Ventures

Investment advice for social impact investment in developing countries. Including microfinance institutions and operating companies in Latin America, India and other developing regions.

Bill Wollrab
VP at American Lighting
Serial entrepreneur and experienced investor focused on enterprises crafting social change. First in renewable energy and then expanding to investing in socially responsible enterprises, Bill has spent his career on the leading edge of the next big thing.

Brian Dirkmaat
Partner, Coast Law Group
I work with creative entrepreneurs and business owners in all areas of business transactions and provide legal solutions that accelerate innovation.

Chas Wurster
CTO, Gimbal, Inc.
All aspects of software lifecycle including: system architecture, software design, software development, product release, customer support, sales support, and managing engineering teams.

Chris Fessenden
Founder, The Artist Odyssey
The Artist Odyssey is a global streaming video network focused on the arts. Our missions are to connect the world’s artists and audiences and to enrich arts education.

Eric Gasser
Founding Partner, Seed San Diego
Actively participates in the SD start-up ecosystem (panels, mentoring, and educational forums. Accomplished Sales Leader with 14 years of hotel and hospitality industry experience.

Erin Milley
Accelerator Director, Agora Partnerships
The mission at Agora Partnerships is to accelerate the shift to a more sustainable, humane, and successful economy in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Grace Michel
Assistant Director for the Center for Peace and Commerce at University of San Diego
Building peace and justice through social innovation, education, peace leadership, and human rights advocacy.

Jason Stirling
Attorney at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
Works with companies in a wide range of industries, including the life sciences, telecommunications, and computer hardware and software industries.

Juan F Roche
Adjunct Professor, University of San Diego, School of Leadership and Education Sciences
Prof. Roche’s research interest is in Corporate Social Responsibility and Organizational Behavior and Culture.

Ken Davenport
CEO, Mission Edge San Diego
Responsible for major donor management and public outreach of Mission Edge, a San Diego-based social enterprise 501(c)3 that helps social entrepreneurs and nonprofits focus on their mission.

Mark Steele
President, SPMC Group
Enabling CEOs and their senior leadership teams to achieve incremental growth by leveraging the intersection of strategy, partnerships and product innovation.

Michael Singer
EVP Technology, Veyo Logistics
Technology leader and founder focused on building products and empowering engineering teams at early stage startups as well as Fortune 500s.

Regina Bernal
Entrepreneurship and Experiential Learning, University of San Diego, School of Business Administration
Leads major entrepreneurship opportunities at USD, including the V2 Pitch Competition, Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference, and coaching and mentoring program for student entrepreneurs.

Ryan Sisson
Moniker Group

I get to empower some amazing creatives to do what they are best at.

Scott Bechtler-Levin
Executive change agent
Serial entrepreneur and marketing executive with deep experiences in medical device, healthcare technology enabled services, SaaS, and nonprofit / social sector leadership roles


Tim Rout

Seasoned executive, experienced in founding, leading and growing technology ventures, with successful outcomes & exits.

Topher Williams
CTO, MomCo
Serial Entrepreneur as well as an Intrapreneur, Consultant, and Advisor

Wes Wasson
Silicon Valley Exec and Board Member
Spent considerable time in developing regions working on social venture concepts that seek to help people in underserved markets.