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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Unreasonable Lab launches in Nigeria, To Prepare Startups For Investment

Unreasonable Ambition: How a movement of entrepreneurship training programs seeks to put a dent on poverty

Boulder, CO –On 6th of June to 10th of June 2016, 25 startups from across Nigeria will gather in Lagos for 5 days, alongside top investors and business mentors for Unreasonable Lab Nigeria, a five-day intensive training program preparing them to raise capital, replete with seasoned entrepreneurs and investors from across Nigeria serving as mentors.

Asked why they wanted to bring Unreasonable Labs to their country, Unreasonable Labs Nigeria’s founding team Olufemi Omotayo, Tito Philips, Jnr. and Michael Olorunninwo said: 

unreasonable lab nigeria

“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’s amazing to see entrepreneurs creating companies that can really help a lot of people,” explains Teju Ravilochan, co-founder and CEO of Unreasonable Institute. Unreasonable Institute boasts successful alumni, including:
  • 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.
The results are striking. 93% of the 150 startups in Unreasonable Institute’s portfolio have raised funding totaling over $100 million. And all together, those companies are benefitting 8 million lives.

But to Ravilochan and his team, it wasn’t enough. “We started Unreasonable Institute because we thought the best way to address billion-person problems was by helping entrepreneurs find solutions,” he 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.”

Ravilochan noted Unreasonable Institute 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?”

Enter Unreasonable Labs. “We packaged up our curriculum and built a way to train teams we think could do what we do,” says Banks Benitez, Vice President of Global Expansion at Unreasonable Institute. “The local teams that we find in new countries to run Labs can then recruit locally-based mentors and funders to support the startups they find.”

In 2015-2016, Unreasonable Institute has equipped 25 Labs in the locations below:

For more information about the #UnreasonableNaija event, kindly visit:

Nigeria Contact:
Phone +234 817 672 8769
Twitter: @UnreasonableNG