The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
– George Bernard Shaw
Unreasonable Group was created out of shared desire to have the greatest impact possible on the world’s toughest challenges. We believed from the onset that entrepreneurs building rapidly scalable businesses are our best bet for solving these challenges. To this end, our north star has always been to partner with and support world-class entrepreneurs positioned to bend history in the right direction.
Going back to the start, the vision behind Unreasonable Group found its roots at the Unreasonable Institute (our closest partner) in the summer of 2010. That summer marked the first annual Unreasonable Institute and a few remarkable events took place that caused our founder, and the founder of the Institute, Daniel Epstein, to see a larger opportunity.
By the time the inaugural program had come to an end, a number of the participating entrepreneurs had gotten a tattoo of the Unreasonable logo, on their body, for the rest of their lives… Nope, we aren’t making this up and yes, we agree this is a bit crazy. Furthermore, a handful of the entrepreneurs pledged to donate equity back to the Unreasonable Institute, after the Institute was over and after they had returned to their home countries. The two things in life you can’t divorce from are tattoos and equity and yet the entrepreneurs who came out of the first Institute, and many who have participated in proceeding programs like Unreasonable@Sea, willingly got tattoos and desired to donate equity back to Unreasonable… we took note of this.
Beyond tattoos and equity, a greater story emerged when a number of the entrepreneurs in the inaugural Institute came to Daniel and said they wanted to change the name of their businesses. They wanted to become Unreasonable Water, or Unreasonable Solar, or Unreasonable Trade…etc. When asked why they desired to rebrand their companies to Unreasonable “x” the entrepreneurs claimed they believed it would increase their impact and their bottom line, it would connect them into a global Unreasonable family indefinitely, and it would bake the intention of impact into their companies now and into the future.
In short, tattoos, equity, and the desire of founders to re-brand their businesses made us realize Unreasonable didn’t just need to be an accelerator program – it could be positioned to become a brand that stood for something even larger. Today, our goal is to become the largest and most effective platform in the world for entrepreneurs solving BFPs.* Working towards this mission, over the past four years we launched Unreasonable Media, UNREASONABLE.is, Unreasonable Capital, Unreasonable@Sea, the Girl Effect Accelerator and Unreasonable Alchemy. Each company is part of our broader vision and was founded out of our shared desire to drive resources, exposure, and support the some of the world’s most promising and impactful entrepreneurs. Knowing we founded Unreasonable Group in 2012, we feel like we are just getting started.
Timeline: Scroll through the slides below to see the story and history of the entire Unreasonable Movement from start to today (including both the Unreasonable Institute and later Unreasonable Group).
In the summer of 2008, 17 young entrepreneurs and innovators from 14 different nationalities were brought together for a 5 week experiment. Unreasonable Institute would later be born out of this program...
The pilot program of 2008 ultimately failed & it was out of the ashes of that program that the Unreasonable Institute was born. The first brand name we came up with was the Global Institute for Social Entrepreneurs (what were we thinking?)...
In early 2009, the founding team of the First Unreasonable Institute was forged. Ignoring the age old adage that says you should never do business with friends, they united first as friends, and then as co-founders...
Drawing on the fact they are the world's best incubator (supporting their rapidly growing young in the harshest climate in the world), Unreasonable selected the penguin as its official un-official mascot! It's our version of a thank you card.
We officially opened applications in October of 2009 for the our inaugural Unreasonable Institute. We had no idea how many companies would apply and from where in the world the interest would come...
In January 2010, the Unreasonable Marketplace was launched. It was a grand experiment, it created our first business model, and ultimately, thousands of people voted with their dollars to select the first class of Unreasonable Fellows.
In July 2010, 22 entrepreneurs from 16 countries convened on Boulder for the first annual Unreasonable Institute. The group of entrepreneurs, mentors, and staff became a family. That family became the cornerstone of this movement.
A year later, we launched the second Unreasonable Institute. We sought out later stage ventures, we fine tuned our selection process, we launched the world's first Unreasonable Climax and this summer, we welcomed 24 entrepreneurs from 16 countries to Boulder...
The vision behind Unreasonable Group found its roots at the 1st Institute in 2010. By March 2012, Unreasonable Group officially launched! The vision? Create a portfolio of companies that would unleash a movement.
We launched UNREASONABLE.is in the Fall of 2012 out of a long seated desire to bring the skills, lessons learned, stories, and inspiration that is shared within the walls of an Institute, to the rest of the world.
One of the first companies in the Group portfolio was Unreasonable Media. We had always filmed the Institute's in the past and believed then, and today, that the power of story is integral to any lasting movement. In September of 2012, Unreasonable Media was born.
In October of 2012, SWAE Sports was re-branded Unreasonable Adventures. Adventures was the first company within the portfolio of Group directly solving a BFP rather than supporting an ecosystem around solving BFP’s (i.e. Big F***ing Problems)
In January 2013, we set sail on a 100 day voyage that would span more than 40,000 nautical kilometers and take 10 tech companies into 14 different countries. It was an experiment in helping entrepreneurs solving our hardest problems scale into new international markets.
To properly culminate the Unreasonable at Sea voyage, we partnered with the US State Department, Stanford's d.school, and the Aspen Institute to launch Unreasonable@State - A global convening of investors, policy makers, and entrepreneurs...
Knowing a single Institute would not change the world, Unreasonable Institute found it's first teams outside the US to launch their own programs! Unreasonable East Africa became one of the first two new locations for the Unreasonable Institute (along with Mexico).
Knowing a single Institute would not change the world, Unreasonable Institute found it's first teams outside the US to launch their own programs! Unreasonable Mexico became one of the first two new locations for the Unreasonable Institute (along with East Africa).
Unreasonable Group teams up with the Nike Foundation to launch an intensive two-week program for entrepreneurs leading innovative startups positioned to benefit millions of girls in poverty: we called it the “Girl Effect Accelerator.”
In an effort to add value to entrepreneurs while selecting their next scale locations, Unreasonable Institute launched Labs, their 5-day version of the flagship Institute products. Over 100 teams applied to run the first Labs...
Born out of partnerships with multinationals, including the Girl Effect Accelerator with Nike and Project Literacy Lab with Pearson, our team at Unreasonable Group spun off a new branch called "Unreasonable Alchemy" in late 2015.
After two years of preparation, collaborating, and fundraising, Unreasonable Capital Fund 1 was launched in January of 2016. We support early stage entrepreneurs in emerging markets who are solving significant social and environmental challenges — profitably.
757 million people are not able to read this sentence because they are illiterate. Our team at Unreasonable Alchemy teamed up with Pearson to launch a new initiative that would put this statistic where it belongs — In a museum. We called the partnership "Project Literacy Lab" and launched the inaugural program in the summer of 2016.
The world’s greatest challenges will never be solved by one person, one team, or one entity. We must work together to move far and to move fast and that is the guiding ethos behind Unreasonable Group.
– Daniel Epstein, unreasonable founder