Steve Jobs innovated the iPhone. Walt-Disney created Mickey Mouse. Coco Chanel invented No. 5 perfume. No doubt at one time or another all of them had people tell them that their ideas were “unreasonable.”
In a world of futuristic technology and ideas, new innovated ideas are often seen as unreasonable — and the bar for entrepreneurial success is higher than it is ever been making it harder for entrepreneurs, like some BYU students, to break through the noise. But, with the help of institutions like the Unreasonable Institute, BYU student entrepreneurs hope to make their ideas possible.
The Unreasonable Institute’s goal is to help student entrepreneurs find their niche in the business world. The student entrepreneurs who apply and are accepted into the institute’s program live with 10 to 20 other students (“ventures”) from around the world for six weeks at the Institute’s headquarters in Boulder, Colo. There they work on polishing and perfecting their innovations with entrepreneurial professionals. Verity Noble, a spokesperson from the Institute, said the extra training can give a leg up to young entrepreneurs.
[media-credit name=”Courtesy the Unreasonable Institute” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]”Getting involved with an institute like Unreasonable before presenting to big business enables you to iron out the kinks, build out your network, which gives you increased credibility, and raise those precious initial rounds of funding, putting you in a far stronger position than you may have been without it,” Noble said.
The institute’s name comes from George Bernard Shaw, who said, “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.” The Unreasonable Institute also describes the ideal entrepreneur as one who is “willing to ignore the skeptics, to persist through failure, and do whatever it takes to change the world for the better.”
Jordan Grimmer, a BYU student from Washington state who works in the Entrepreneurial Office in the Tanner Building , hopes to start up a business in Provo after he graduates BYU. Grimmer said he also believes entrepreneurs need experienced people to help them refine their ideas for the professional world.
“Starting a business is scary. You are venturing into unknown territory,” Grimmer said. “It is helpful to have people who have been in the business world outside of Provo, because they know how business is conducted in the ‘secular world.’ It is good to learn things in a classroom setting, but experience is the best teacher and that is what our mentors have.”
Taylor Ashman, a senior from Carrollton, Texas studying economics, has been investing in stocks for two years. Although he has only invested in established companies so far, he plans on investing in entrepreneurs eventually. Ashman described the type of entrepreneurs that he will look for as an investor and emphasized the importance of perfecting an idea in order to be successful.
“If someone comes to you with an idea written on a napkin you won’t take them seriously,” Ashman said. “Anything that helps an idea be further developed and polished is good. Before you are willing to put money into something you need to see the research that has been done and who they are targeting to market to. It takes time.”
Among several changes to their program, the Unreasonable Institute has also changed their application process to better accommodate groups. Noble noted that there have been several changes to better serve student entrepreneurs:
- The 2013 Institute is now open to teams, but individual entrepreneurs are still able to attend.
- The application process is half as long. This will allow entrepreneurs to be accepted by December 23, 2012.
- 10 to 20 ventures will be admitted instead of two dozen, which was the average before.
- The Institute will be customized for the ventures chosen. Because they will be working with fewer ventures and have a faster selection process, they will have six months to select mentors and financial supporters that are particularly relevant to the chosen ventures.