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Offer: WANTED: THE WORLD’S MOST UNREASONABLE ENTREPRENEURS

The Unreasonable Institute, an international accelerator for high-impact ventures, is scouring the globe for entrepreneurs with solutions to the greatest social and environmental challenges of our time. The search has begun with the opening of applications for its second annual institute. Application deadline is December 15, 2010 at 24:00 (-6 GMT).

“We’re looking for twenty-five of the world’s most promising entrepreneurs dedicated to launching globally significant ventures that can reach at least one million people,” explains Founding President Daniel Epstein.

Selected entrepreneurs, dubbed “Unreasonable Fellows,” will gather in Boulder, Colorado between June 16 and July 27, 2011 to live with 24 like-minded peers from around the world and participate in the Unreasonable Institute’s six-week acceleration program. They will receive guidance from over 60 mentors, including the co-founder of Google.org, the founder of a $200 million impact investment fund, and an entrepreneur credited with enabling over 24 million farmers to move out of poverty. In addition, the 25 Unreasonable Fellows will form relationships with portfolio managers from up to thirty impact investment funds, including the Rockefeller Foundation, Acumen Fund, and Good Capital. They’ll receive design training from IDEO, fundraising consulting from an entrepreneur who has raised over $1 billion, impact assessment tools from B Corporation, legal guidance from a network of pro-bono lawyers in 100 countries, and pitch to hundreds of investors and funders in Silicon Valley. “The Institute is relentlessly focused on one objective: accelerating ventures that future generations will remember as having defined progress in our time,” explains Epstein. “Our job is to do everything to help them get there.”

How does the Unreasonable Institute find such ventures? Aided by over 50 hubs for young entrepreneurs from around the globe, including Teach for America, TED Fellows, and the MIT 100K Competition, nearly 300 entrepreneurs learned about the Institute in its first year and submitted applications. “We whittle down our initial applicant pool to up to fifty finalists through written applications and phone interviews,” explains Epstein’s fellow co-founder Tyler Hartung. “Then we challenge these finalists to raise the $8,000 it costs to attend the Unreasonable Institute through small contributions.” In a test of their entrepreneurial mettle, finalists post profiles of themselves and their ventures on an online marketplace. The public then votes with its dollars on the most viable ideas for creating impact. The first twenty-five finalists to raise $8,000, while adhering to weekly contribution caps, are chosen to attend the Unreasonable Institute. “Last year’s selected Unreasonable Fellows raised their funds from just under 3,000 people from 130 countries.”

What kind of entrepreneurs does this race to raise $8,000 turn up and what do they make of their summer with the Unreasonable Institute? “Last year’s Fellows included a Nigerian farmer with a radio program educating over 250,000 farmers about prices and agricultural practices, a Princeton graduate scaling a carbon-negative process for converting agricultural waste into energy and soil conditioner, and a Venezuelan scientist developing a low-cost DNA test for treatable diseases,” says Hartung. Unreasonable Fellow Emily Kerr, who received over $100,000 in investment for her company through the Unreasonable Institute, had this to say about her experience: “The Unreasonable Institute exceeded every expectation I had, by a factor of 10. Mentorship and funding opportunities? Beyond what you could imagine. Huge insights and life-long friendships? Absolutely. It’s not venture-changing; it’s life-changing.”

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