25 Nigerian startups to pursue their ‘unreasonable’ ambition

Unreasonable Labs, the international startup accelerator from the Unreasonable Institute, this week announced that it would be launching in Nigeria as it looks to prepare startups in that country for investment.

According to a press release sent to Ventureburn, the five day accelerator will see 25 companies undergo five-day intensive training program preparing them to raise capital, replete with seasoned entrepreneurs and investors from across Nigeria serving as mentors.

In a joint statement Unreasonable Labs Nigeria’s founding team Olufemi Omotayo, Tito Philips Jnr., and Michael Olorunninwo said:

“For the first time in history, we have adopted a market economy. Our ongoing development cannot continue through aid and donation. There’s no other way to address our challenges but through entrepreneurship, innovation, and private sector. And Unreasonable Labs might be the best avenue to addressing these needs.”

It probably doesn’t hurt that a reported 93% of the 150 startups in Unreasonable Institute’s portfolio have raised funding totaling over US$100-million. All together, the release says, those companies are benefitting 8 million lives.

What is Unreasonable Institute? from Unreasonable Media on Vimeo.

“It’s amazing to see entrepreneurs creating companies that can really help a lot of people,” adds Teju Ravilochan, co-founder and CEO of Unreasonable Institute.

Unreasonable Institute’s successful alumni includ:

  • Mosaic, the “solar bank” that started as an idea at Unreasonable Institute and now is the largest lender for home solar projects in the United States.
  • Eneza, the fastest growing mobile education app in Africa, equipping 650,000 students in Kenya to gain access to tutoring and test prep on $10 phones.
  • MANA Nutrition, which has cured over one million kids of severe acute malnutrition through a nutrient-enriched peanut butter.

“We started Unreasonable Institute because we thought the best way to address billion-person problems was by helping entrepreneurs find solutions,” Ravilochan explains. “But to have any chance of doing that, we need to find thousands of entrepreneurs and get them the people and resources they need to grow.”

Speaking about Unreasonable Institute’s model Ravilochan said the organisation had one key barrier to scale. “Our model is high touch,” he explains. “Mentors spend a lot of time with our entrepreneurs.” Mentors (experienced business and social/environmental change leaders) each pick one company to work with for 6-12 months. “And we carefully match them based on diagnosing our entrepreneur’s needs and understanding the mentor’s skills.”

“Entrepreneurs get a lot of attention from mentors who come through the program. That’s what makes Unreasonable Institute so valuable for them.” says Ravilochan. “So we weren’t going to be able to maintain the quality of our support and work with a whole lot more entrepreneurs. So we figured, hey, what if we could just teach other people to do what we do?”

Applications for the accelerator can be found online.



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