One of the things I like the most about community hours is the chance to meet people that I may not have been able to connect with otherwise. And while the initial meetings are brief (15 minutes) every once in a while someone makes an indelible impression during that time.
One such person, whom I met about 18 months ago, is Daniel Epstein. Daniel, along with his partners Teju, Tyler and Vlad, started something they call the Unreasonable Institute. The Unreasonable Institute is something bold and audacious and exactly the kind of thing you’d expect from Daniel and his partners once you get to know them. The goal of the Unreasonable Institute is to accelerate the growth and learning of entrepreneurs tackling some of the world’s greatest social and environmental challenges. 2011 will be the second summer the Institute has gathered 25 high-impact entrepreneurs in Boulder for an intensive 6-week program to help accelerate their business ideas. Paired with an outstanding group of mentors, these companies spend their summer fine tuning their ideas and honing their businesses.
For those interested in understanding more about the journey these impact-entreprenurs take, there are a series of videos on Unreasonable.tv that will give you a clear picture of what the program is about.
One of the unique things about the Unreasonable Institute is how they select the companies that participate. Admission to the program costs each team $8,000 (this fee goes to cover their living and program costs while they’re here for the summer – the entire group lives together in the Unreasonable house and works pretty much 24/7 on their business ideas). Rather than viewing this as an impediment to participation, the Unreasonable team has turned it into part of the selection process. After narrowing the list down to 45 finalists, the final selections are made by people all over the world who vote with their dollars – agreeing to sponsor teams for the summer. So that no one person can overly influence the outcome, the dollar amount that any given person can pledge to a team is limited (starting at $10/week and rising over the course of the selection process). The marketplace is currently open and I’d highly recommend you check out what the finalists are up to. So far over 2,500 individuals from 140 countries have voted with their dollars.
This is an amazing program and and amazing way to make an impact. I hope you’ll take a look.