Scott Anderson

Weekly Roundup: 10-16-11: Creating the Ecosystem, the Unreasonable Way

Like many relatively nascent movements, we use the term “ecosystem” quite a bit when referencing the social enterprise space.

We’ve heard it uttered innumerable times at many a conference: “We need to create an ecosystem to do X, Y or Z.” This always is a well-intentioned call to action, but often there’s no actual action that can be followed. If you want strong community of frogs, you need a habitat that provides everything they need: flies to eat, a healthy pond in which to swim, the occasional lily pad to hang on. In short, you need a swamp.

For many entrepreneurs (or the frogs in this somewhat stretched analogy) the Unreasonable Institute is that swamp, and I mean it in the best possible way. The third annual six-week acceleration program is accepting applications for 25 coveted slots. Last year, the experience drew applications from 1,200 entrepreneurs hailing from more 70 countries.

The reason is simple. Unreasonable does more than introduce social business upstarts to mentors – they actually share the same habitat with portfolio managers from at least 20 major investment funds and will pitch their ideas to at least 100 prospective funders and more 600 potential partners and supporters at a variety of public events.

“And they do it all while living under one roof for six weeks with 24 like-minded peers dedicated to defining progress in our time,” says Unreasonable Institute Founding President Daniel Epstein in a statement. “Our goal is to arm these entrepreneurs with mentorship, capital, and one hell of a network so their ventures can scale to improve at least one million lives…and do that while making a profit.”

But these entrepreneurs don’t do their fund-raising after the Institute wraps, they have to raise their own $10,000 in admission fees in the crowdsourced “finalist marketplace” via small dollar increments. It’s set up so that no one firm can simply breeze through with the windfall of a wealthy aunt or uncle investor.

Social business founders/managers have until Nov. 10 to submit written applications and the finalist marketplace will launch Jan. 5.

Time to start hopping, entrepreneurial frogs.


In Case You Missed It … This Week on NextBillion

NextThought Monday: New Modes of Mobility for the Poor By Carlin Carr

Aakash: Game Changer or Another Brick in the Wall? By Devanik Saha

Launching a New Series: The Global Spread of Affordable Housing By Rochelle Beck

Technology Plus Humanity – An Equation for Social Collaboration By Elly S. Brown

Social Entrepreneurship Coming Full Circle, at Columbia’s Social Enterprise Conference By Sadna Samaranayake

ANDE Moves From Analysis to Action By Scott Anderson

Housing for All Series: Sizing Up the Affordable Housing Deficit By Oliver Kayser and Lucie Klarsfeld

Finding Value in Waste By Sergio Cabello

W/Video Via ViewChange, Oxfam: This World Food Day, Making it Africa’s Last Famine By ViewChange/LinkTV