Unreasonable Institute: Think Kiva for Social Ventures

Posted by on April 7, 2009 in Education, Entrepreneurship, North America, World - 14 Comments


Kiva has had tremendous impact on eradicating poverty and empowering poor people. Their open platform has allowed for many entrepreneurs in developing countries and lenders in developed countries to connect in a way never done before.

But where do young social entrepreneurs with BIG ideas go for funding and strategic guidance?

Well for a start, they can check out Unreasonable Institute, a new company applying the Kiva model to social business investing and the Y Combinator model to idea development. Unreasonable Institute is a social entrepreneurship incubator created to host summer institutes where a confluence of young, brilliant, social entrepreneurs undergo rigorous and practical training involving personal and entrepreneurial skill development, intensive collaboration and work-shopping, and involved guidance from mentors in order to bring their ideas to fruition. Once an idea is refined, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to showcase it via Unreasonable Institute’s online marketplace to attract seed funding. Pretty cool.

If you’re a young social entrepreneur with an idea to cure a societal ill, consider applying to their inaugural Fellows Program this upcoming October. The first annual 10-week institute will commence during the summer of 2010. The application acceptance period starts October 15, 2009 and 25 social entrepreneurs will be selected.

Here is what Fellows get

Unreasonable Institute

Unreasonable Institute Logo

  • Incubator which helps social entrepreneurs launch successful companies
  • Organization Type: Non-Profit
  • Website: www.unreasonableinstitute.org
  • Founder(s):Daniel Epstein, Teju Ravilochan, Nikhil Dandavati, Soren Sudhof, Tyler Hartung, Vlad Dubovskiy
  • Founded:2008
  • Location:Boulder, Colorado, United States
  • See complete company list here

Image Source: unreasonableinstitute.org


Erik is a perpetually curious social innovator. As a serial entrepreneur, Erik knows a thing or two about change. As a co-founder of SocialEarth, Erik hopes to channel his passion for social advocacy into an innovative venue of social awareness for others.

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14 Comments on "Unreasonable Institute: Think Kiva for Social Ventures"

  1. Marius Klee April 7, 2009 at 3:55 pm ·

    This model has to be one of the most refreshing ideas in the field of social entrepreneurship in a long time.

  2. Ben Whitehair April 7, 2009 at 11:41 pm ·

    This is brilliant.

  3. Simon Evill April 8, 2009 at 2:54 am ·

    I agree, a brilliant idea. I think the Unreasonable Institute might share some common ground and similarities with The School for Social Entrepreneurs in the UK.

  4. Maryam Gooyabadi April 8, 2009 at 2:10 pm ·

    This idea is absolutely mind blowing! I visited their website and was delighted by their unique approach to the entrepreneurship field. Truly amazing!

  5. Adamguy April 12, 2009 at 11:18 am ·

    Brilliant! It is clear that social entrepreneurship needs to refine its aims and build its capacity and the Unreasonable Institute is bringing a refreshing new approach to doing both of these things…

  6. Suds May 29, 2009 at 11:30 am ·

    I can’t wait to see what happens with this platform over the next year!

  7. katrinah September 15, 2009 at 6:01 pm ·

    Great post, Erik! Indeed, the team at Unreasonable Institute is breaking new ground with their innovative approach to sustaining their social venture by relying on the market to fund the training of young social entrepreneurs. Brilliant! I met up with Daniel Epstein, Co-Founder of Unreasonable Institute this month. Here’s a video interview with Daniel Hope everyone enjoys it! : – )

  8. ed whymandesign January 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm ·

    Great post.

    Check BeVolunteer too

    Can I propose the Business structure that creates an additional USP so
    you can beat any competitors in the field.

    You have many identical competitors and this in one pivotal way to
    create a USP that will enable you to beat them. If so I would love to
    work with you to enhance your business.

    I would like to propose a way
    to create an additional USP that will benefit* your company by creating
    the cumulative mass needed to make your business a success by donating
    100% of your companies Net profit to innovative charitable work.

    *Increased goodwill with the financial benefits that lead to rapid
    growth which causes a rapid increase in profit which leads to an
    increase in performance related pay for all involved.

    This would create a USP that your competitors will not be able to
    compete against allowing you to grow rapidly taking market share as you
    gain consumer goodwill. This will allow hard work to be rewarded with
    performance related pay.

    The open source community will still be able to develop your software
    which will dramatically increase the speed of the softwares development.

    This business structure will enable your organisation to evolve and work
    within a more philanthropic structure while gaining goodwill from
    customers/workers/suppliers by clearly explaining their NET donation


    How will I make my millions if I implement this structure?
    Hard work and innovation by founders and employees will be rewarded with
    performance pay relating to the growth of the company so hard work is
    still rewarded. This could be expanded to reward members of the open
    source community too.

    How will the company survive hard times?
    The Net profit can be invested and then donated up to a couple of years
    after it has been generated in order secure the companies financial

    How will the company pay for R&D?
    The net profit is profit after the company has spent on R&D so still
    allows progressive business development.

    What other effects will there be?
    Workers will be more careful about how they spend the money knowing that
    it is being taken away from the end good cause rather than from a
    shareholders dividend, which will make the organisation more efficient.
    Many benefits will be created from customers / suppliers / partners /
    stakeholders / workers that will silently boost the business.

    This would…

    1 create funds for charity
    2 make charity more 'efficient'
    3 boost your companies success rate with added goodwill
    4 enable people who created your project to get rewarded financially
    though performance pay while creating an organisation that is able to
    provide a platform for goodwill collaboration where everyone is rewarded
    for their hard/clever work knowing that all benefits go towards 'good

    I would be happy to explain any more details as and when needed.

    Ed Whyman


  9. Brian Wells April 28, 2010 at 8:13 am ·

    Hard work will take you far. So, are we saying a non-profit organization can be seen as a business today?

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