How do we know if our programs actually benefit the entrepreneurs we work with in a meaningful way? Here at the Unreasonable Institute, we consistently ask ourselves, “Is what we’re doing really making an impact?”
Is what we’re doing really making an impact? Tweet This Quote
Over the last year, we have committed ourselves to trying to answer that question. As a first step, we reached out to all the entrepreneurs who have participated in our Global Institute in Boulder, Colorado, over the past five years and asked them to tell us how their ventures have grown and scaled, how influential Unreasonable was in supporting that growth, and what kind of impact they are creating in the world. Of the 93 ventures that have participated in Unreasonable Global, 88% completed the survey; we are thrilled to share with you what we learned from their responses in our first-ever impact report.
The goal isn’t to attribute entrepreneurial success to Unreasonable—we know better than anyone that the success of an entrepreneur’s startup is due to their own diligence and grit. We’re content knowing that we contribute in some way, but we don’t try to identify exactly which piece of a venture’s success—or how large a piece—we are “responsible” for. Rather, our goal is to learn how we can improve. Assessing our impact helps us better serve our entrepreneurs. Only through intimate familiarity with what’s working and what’s not can we rigorously improve our programs.
We also recognize that our approach is imperfect. All of our ventures—given the extraordinary breadth of entrepreneurs we work with, across both sectors and geographies—are unique. We know that impact metrics, even supplemented by the qualitative stories of impact we are simultaneously collecting, can never fully capture the phenomenal work they are doing. What we’ve done is a start – and we welcome feedback on how to improve going forward.
What does impact assessment tell us?
First, in a lot of ways, what we are doing is working. Here are some of the highlights.
- Our ventures report the following:
- 1.8x average growth in revenues one year after the Institute. 9.6x two years after the Institute.
- 7.2x average growth in funding one year after the Institute
- 5.6x average growth in team size two years after the Institute
- 93 percent of our ventures have raised funding, for a total of over $72 million raised since the Institute
- 98 percent of our entrepreneurs are still in touch with members of the Unreasonable community
- 95 percent of our entrepreneurs have recommended the Unreasonable Institute to a fellow entrepreneur
The exploration of how we are most powerfully benefiting our entrepreneurs, and where we are falling short, has helped us develop a laser-focus on both where we need to keep up the good work, and where we need to improve. For instance, we learned that only 84 percent of our entrepreneurs felt that the skills and resources we provided them empowered them to identify and connect with funders on their own. We are moving in the right direction (as 100% of the Class of 2014 felt this way), but we want to make sure that we are consistently achieving these results for all of our entrepreneurs year after year.
An Unreasonable goal
While we are proud of the impact that Unreasonable—along with our mentors, funders, partners, and supporters—has helped create, we still have a long way to go before we achieve what we set out to accomplish. Through ongoing impact assessment, we can learn how to improve our work with entrepreneurs, better equipping them with the resources and support they need to tackle the world’s greatest challenges.