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FAQ

General Questions about Unreasonable at Sea

What is Unreasonable at Sea?
Who’s behind the program and why are you doing this?
What is Semester at Sea?
What is Unreasonable Group?
Why have Semester at Sea and Unreasonable Group partnered?
Why did you choose the name “Unreasonable at Sea?”
Is Unreasonable at Sea looking for funders?

What Happens at Unreasonable at Sea?

What does a typical day during Unreasonable at Sea look like?
How will we be interacting with the 600+ students on the ship?
Does Unreasonable at Sea guarantee I’ll receive investment?
What is the ship like that we’ll be sailing on?
Does Unreasonable at Sea provide access to grants and foundation money in addition to venture investment?
Where will the companies live while on the ship?
Do I have to stay for the full 100 day program?
I’m concerned that 100 days is too much time.
Who can I contact if I have more questions?

Am I Eligible for Unreasonable at Sea?

What sorts of companies are eligible to apply to Unreasonable at Sea?
Why do you prefer companies that have generated at least $1 in revenue?
Why do you accept only for-profit ventures?
We are a founding team. Can our entire team attend Unreasonable at Sea?
I’m a single founder. Can I get accepted into Unreasonable at Sea without at least one full-time teammate?
I’m a student and I want study abroad with Semester at Sea during this program. How do I apply?
Is my age a factor in your selection process?
Do I need to send in a business plan?
Can I apply to Unreasonable at Sea if I’m not a U.S. citizen?
Is my company too early (or too late) stage to apply to Unreasonable at Sea?
Do you require entrepreneurial experience?
If I’m not an Unreasonable Fellow, will U@Sea still help me build my team?
My English is not very good. Can I still apply?

What is the Application Process Like?

How does your application process work?
What is the timeline for your application process?
How much does it cost to attend Unreasonable at Sea?
Why do you charge in equity instead of tuition dollars?

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General Questions about Unreasonable at Sea

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What is Unreasonable at Sea?
(Watch this 2 minute video). Unreasonable at Sea is a mentor driven accelerator for tech entrepreneurs who desire to take their ventures into new international markets. In January of 2013, we welcomed 11 entrepreneurs and their teams from every corner of the globe to join us for a 100 day program as we sail around the world and bring their products and services into new markets. We choose to work exclusively with technology companies who are helping to solve the greatest social and environmental challenges of this century. Throughout the program these entrepreneurs are mentored by 20 world-class serial entrepreneurs and innovators and they have the opportunity to form relationships with top-tier politicians, entrepreneurs, and investors at national pitch events that we will host in the 14 countries we port in. Why Unreasonable? We have partnered with Semester at Sea to run this accelerator on a ship as it circumnavigates the southern hemisphere. Click here for further details.

Who’s behind the program and why are you doing this?
Unreasonable at Sea was formed when Luke Jones, the Chief of Staff of Semester at Sea and Daniel Epstein, the founder of Unreasonable Group and the Unreasonable Institute, sat down to brainstorm avenues for collaboration. After a few short meetings, we realized the opportunity to collaborate and run a program like the Unreasonable Institute while semester at sea was sailing around the world with over 600 undergraduate students. The opportunity was too significant to ignore and what was a small idea quickly became the first global experiment in entrepreneurship of its kind. It was then that Luke and Daniel teamed up with George Kembel, the co-founder and Executive Director of Stanford’s d.school, and together we launched Unreasonable at Sea.

What is Semester at Sea?
Operated by the nonprofit Institute for Shipboard Education in Charlottesville, Va, Semester at Sea’s worldwide itineraries offer rigorous coursework coupled with field assignments, service learning in 8-14 international destinations, and the skills necessary to compete in today’s rapidly globalizing world. Credit earned is fully transferable by the University of Virginia. Since 1963, Semester at Sea has launched 108 voyages, educated more
than 55,000 alumni from 1,700 institutions, and traveled to more than 60 countries. Learn more at www.semesteratsea.org or watch this 4 minute video that explains it all.

What is Unreasonable Group?
Unreasonable at Sea is a portfolio company of, and is managed by, Unreasonable Group. At Unreasonable Group, we hedge our bets on the most thrifty, resourceful, creative, and disruptive class amongst us: entrepreneurs. Our ambition is to serve as a catalyst for entrepreneurship in the 21st century & harness its collective power to address the greatest challenges of our time. By 2020 we have the aspiration of seeing at minimum 50 companies operating in 50 countries under the banner of Unreasonable and all leveraging ingenuity to solve the greatest challenges of our time. To begin, we have launched a small portfolio of companies: Unreasonable Capital, UNREASONALBE.is, Unreasonable Media, and of course, Unreasonable at Sea. Unreasonable at Sea is the embodiment of the type of experiment and program we are eager to launch and learn from.

Why have Semester at Sea and Unreasonable Group partnered?
Established in 1963, Semester at Sea is the only study abroad program of its kind in the world. Using a ship as its traveling campus, students, faculty, and lecturers live and learn together while circumnavigating the globe each semester. The mission of Semester at Sea is to “educate individuals with the global understanding necessary to address the challenges of our interdependent world.” Match that mission statement with the mission of the Unreasonable Group, “serve as a catalyst for entrepreneurship in the 21st century & harness its collective power to address the greatest challenges of our time,” and you begin to understand why we have partnered up. This partnership is mission aligned and will mark Semester at Sea as the premier study abroad program for students who are eager to identify solutions to the major global challenges of this century.

Why did you choose the name “Unreasonable at Sea?”
The name is based on a quotation by George Bernard Shaw: “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 [and woman].” Plus, it describes exactly the kind of entrepreneur we are looking for: someone who is willing to ignore the skeptics, to persist through failure, and is unyieldingly determined to change the world.

Is Unreasonable at Sea looking for funding?
Unreasonable at Sea is looking for visionary funders and sponsors who can help us make this program into a world-class experience. What is most important to us, however, is that the people behind any capital we receive share our values, are equally obsessed with a belief that entrepreneurship will change the world, believe whole heartedly in the importance of a global perspective and operations, and are people who want to be invested in the success of this international experiment. Please contact us directly if you are interested in sharing a conversation about this.


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What Happens at Unreasonable at Sea?

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What will a typical day be like for an Unreasonable Fellow?
It’s your company, so you will be able to dictate how you can most productively use your time during the program. We are certain of one thing though, you will constantly be working hard at perfecting, tweaking, and adjusting your business model and product. When we are on the ship sailing between ports, we will host daily workshops led by our mentors, you will be interacting with and mentoring the student body of Semester at Sea, you will be tirelessly working on your core product or service, and you will be preparing for the next country that we’ll be docking in. When we port in the 11 countries (14 port cities) throughout the voyage, we will be hosting national events for entrepreneurship in an effort to give you and your team front and center stage in front of that country’s leading innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, politicians, and philanthropists. We will be connecting you to the entrepreneurial eco-systems in each country we visit throughout the 100 day program. Furthermore, while in country, you will have the opportunity to test your product or service in that market. You will gain real time customer validation and feedback and we imagine that between ports, you will be aggressively working with your team to incorporate that feedback and perfect and pivot your products and business models before we arrive in the next country, only days later.

How will we be interacting with the 600+ students on the ship?
One of the most amazing attributes of Unreasonable at Sea is that as we sail around the globe, you will be doing so with 600 additional undergraduate college students who will be on their study abroad program with Semester at Sea. Each student who applies to Semester at Sea does so with the desire “to explore the global challenges facing humanity and the opportunities to engineer an equitable and sustainable future.” Throughout the entire voyage you will have the opportunity to interact, live with, learn from, and mentor these students. You will be giving guest talks in their classrooms, you will be practicing your pitches in front of the entire student body, you will be sharing meals with the students, and you will be helping them turn their desire to have a big impact on this world into actionable plans for action. The chance to mentor these students and to learn from them will be a once in a lifetime experience.

Does Unreasonable at Sea guarantee I’ll receive investment?
Other than the investment we are placing in your company once accepted into the program, we cannot and do not guarantee that our participants will receive funding from outside venture funds or foundations. However, we do guarantee unprecedented exposure to funders and world-class relationships with dozens of capital sources. Fundamentally, our goal is to go to bat for you, to do everything we can to get you the resources you need to rocket ahead, and like you, we are acutely aware of how important financing is to scaling your business.

What is the ship like that we’ll be sailing on?

The MV Explorer is the safe and modern floating campus of the Semester at Sea program. Built in 2002, the 590-foot passenger ship circumnavigates the globe twice a year and explores a world region each Maymester and summer. Complete with a student union, wireless Internet, 9,000-volume library, and many of the amenities you’d find on a land-based campus, the ship functions as both a traveling university and residential home to more than 2,000 participants each year. Click here to take a virtual tour of the ship.

Does Unreasonable at Sea provide access to grants and foundation money in addition to venture investment?
Yes! Some Mentors and some of the funds and foundations we are partners with focus on philanthropic capital, while other Mentors and Capital Partners focus on venture capital. We will invite all types of capital sources to our national events and pitch events, ensuring there is an abundance and diversity of funding opportunities available for all the companies we work with.

Where will the companies live while on the ship?
Semester at Sea is providing your room and board while on the ship. However, your rooms on the ship will not be romantic or luxurious. They will be used for sleeping and not much else as we want to ensure you are out of your room and that you are working in the common areas we have set aside for you throughout the ship. Although more than livable, we are intentionally giving you rooms that are small and crammed so that you spend most of your time outside of your room, working with your teams, your peers in the program, and the Mentors of the program.

Do I have to stay for the full 100 day program?
The most valuable service we provide to the companies we work with is our 100 day program. If accepted as an Unreasonable Fellow, you will have been chosen from hundreds of applicants around the world. Out of respect for them and to ensure that we are maximizing our impact, we ask that you attend the full 100 days of the voyage. In fact, we require it.

I’m concerned that 100 days is too much time.
Seeing that circumnavigating the southern hemisphere with 10 companies and 20 world-class mentors, and that we will be throwing national events around entrepreneurship in 14 countries, we cannot imagine shortening the program to anything less than 100 days. It is VERY important to note that you will be working on your company throughout the entirety of the program and that ideally you are able to achieve two years worth of productivity with your team and your product in the 100 days of the voyage. Rather than time away from your company, you should think of this as the most focused and disciplined work you could do on behalf of your business. This is also why we have focused on technology based ventures (especially mobile and software)… We want to ensure you can work on your business while the ship is sailing between ports and that you can get real customer feedback by having potential customers in each country we visit use your product or service.

Can we guarantee that this 100 days is a better use of your time than staying with your market? No. But according to our mentor Paul Polak, credited for lifting over 19 million farmers out of poverty, developing a transformative product or service that meets the needs of your customers is only 20% of the job. The hard part, 80% of the job, is marketing, distributing, and sustaining your organization. Our focus is on the latter part of the job.

Who can I contact if I have more questions?
Please feel to contact us directly be clicking here.


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Am I eligibile for Unreasonable at Sea?

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What sorts of companies are eligible to apply to Unreasonable at Sea?
We work with for-profit, technology based companies who are using the core product or service to tackle major social and environmental challenges. Aside from being fueled by a drive to effectively addresses a social or environmental problem, an Unreasonable Company must have a full-time team of at least 2 people, have completed a prototype or pilot at bare minimum, be able to prove that they have meaningfully engaged with their customers, and be highly-scalable (capable of reaching at least 1 million people). We also overwhelmingly prefer organizations that can demonstrate their value to their customers by having generated revenue through the sale of their core product or service. Lastly, and most relevant to this experience, we will only work with companies who can convince as that they are ready to scale internationally and that porting in 14 countries will be a strategic move for their organization. Read more about our eligibility criteria here.

Why do you overwhelmingly prefer companies that have at least $1 of revenue?
We believe we work most effectively companies and not ideas. Revenue shows us your venture is more than just an idea and that someone out there thinks highly enough of what you’re offering to part with their hard-earned dollars for it. It shows us you’re engaging with customers meaningfully. We also believe that only action validates theoretical knowledge and are looking for entrepreneurs who can show, not just tell, us they’ve got something their customers will value. We do realize that occasionally, ventures that are highly likely to offer goods and services their prospective customers will pay for, may not have generated revenue. An example of this type of company would be a Bio-Tech business that needs to take it’s product through years of multiple trials before generating a dollar. If this is true for your venture, you will simply need to convince us however you can that customers will eventually purchase your product.

Why do you accept only for-profit ventures?
Although we believe non-profits can be very effective at having a positive impact where markets don’t currently exist, we believe for-profit companies are better positioned to solve the world’s problems because they have built-in, rigid accountability through stakeholders and must drive innovation to stay competitive. Also, we have decided to focus exclusively on for-profit companies in an effort to focus in on the services we are providing and to ensure that we can add as much value as possible to the companies we are working with.

We are a founding team. Can our entire team attend Unreasonable at Sea?
If your entire team is made up of 2-3 individuals, then yes! We require that you have a team in order to be accepted into the program and we require that at least 2 of you join us for the entirety of the voyage. In order to truly take advantage of the 100 day program, we believe it is imperative that you and a team member set sail on this journey together. Some of the companies we work with may have as many as 100 employees so we do have to limit the number of teammates that can represent each venture. The majority of the companies we work with will be able to bring out 2 members of their team (one must be the founder and CEO) and a few select companies will be able to bring 3 assuming they can convince us they will gain an excess benefit from having a third team member.

I’m a single founder. Can I get accepted into Unreasonable at Sea or do you only look for teams?
We only accept ventures run by teams of at least two full time people. This is for three reasons: (1) We believe in teams over individuals and have seen time and time again that an incredible team is imperative to the success of any venture (2)We want to ensure that you are able to gain significant headway while setting sail around the world and believe strongly that teams will be imperative to taking advantage of the experience of porting in 14 countries (3) To us, having a teammate on board demonstrates you are deeply committed to your venture, that you have lit at least one other person on fire with your vision, and that you are prepared for serious execution.

I’m a student and I want study abroad with Semester at Sea during this program. How do I apply?
You’ll want to visit Semester at Sea’s website. Specifically, click here to apply for the Spring 2013 voyage (the voyage we’ll be running Unreasonable at Sea on).

Is my age a factor in your selection process?
No, as long as you’re over 18 we’ll consider your application.

Do I need to send in a business plan?
No. Our application process consists of multiple short answer questions that are designed to clearly investigate your team, the issue you are addressing, and your proposed solution. Aside from the questions we ask in our application, we do not accept outside materials like business plans.

Can I apply if I’m not from the United States?
Yes, yes and yes. Not only can you apply, we are dedicated to working with entrepreneurs from around the world. We firmly believe that the issues we face today are global in scope and that solutions to these issues require global effort. For that reason, we absolutely, without doubt, accept entrepreneurs from every corner of the world. For the 2011 program of the Unreasonable Institute alone, entrepreneurs applied from over 60 countries! We hope to see applications from 100 countries for Unreasonable at Sea this year!

Is my company too early (or late) stage to apply to Unreasonable?
We do not accept ventures that are in the idea stage. We look for ventures that have at least completed a pilot or prototype and that have at least one full-time teammate. We also give overwhelming preference to ventures that have generated revenue through selling their core product or service. We also work with well-established ventures that are looking to make the leap from being a reasonable organization to an unreasonable venture by scaling globally and reaching millions of people. We’ve seen ventures that have already generated over $1 million in revenue take away tremendous value past Unreasonable Institutes. Take a look at Unreasonable TV Episode 2 for an example. Read our eligibility requirements for more information.

Do you require entrepreneurial experience?
We are looking for a relentless entrepreneurial spirit in all the teams we work with. This does not necessarily mean that you have already founded a company or organization, though we do appreciate that level of experience. What it does mean is that we are looking for people who are resilient to failure, who persist through the challenges, and who have a record of taking problems into their own hands to create solutions. If you haven’t created a venture in the past, convince us you are unyielding enough to weather the challenges of starting an enterprise.

If I’m I don’t get into the program, will Unreasonable at Sea still help me build my team?
Due to constraints of time and energy, we are solely dedicated to accelerating and supporting the teams who get into the program and we are not able to help build the teams of outside entrepreneurs. Instead of us connecting you with a stranger, we recommend that you find teammates through your personal network. In our experience, teams thrown together from outside parties typically fall apart.

My English is not very good. Can I still apply?
We are an international organization and firmly believe that English is not a pre-requisite to being an incredible entrepreneur. Considering, however that the program will be run in English, you will need to be able to read, write, and speak English sufficiently.

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What is the application process like?

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How does your application process work?
The application process to become an Unreasonable fellow consists of two stages: (1) a written application, and (2) an interview. Applicants begin by submitting a written application primarily consisting of a few short-answer questions addressing the need they are tackling, their solution, their plan for execution, and their team. Out of all submitted applications roughly one hundred applicants will advance to the interview round, which involves answering 4-5 questions in a 20-minute phone call or Skype call with a member of the Unreasonable Team. From the pool of interview candidates, we will accept the 10 teams to join us for Unreasonable at Sea! Click here to apply today!

What is the timeline for your application process?

  • Applications Close: June 20, 2012
  • Interviews will begin: July 6, 2012
  • 10 Companies selected will be announced: July 31, 2012

How much does it cost to attend Unreasonable at Sea?
Read about the costs of attending Unreasonable at Sea on our Costs Page.

Why do you charge in equity instead of tuition dollars?
Rather than having you pay for the program up front with tuition dollars, we want to make certain our interests are mutually aligned. This is why we are receiving an equity stake in all the companies who participate in Unreasonable at Sea. Under this model, the ultimate success of our organization hinges on ensuring your company is successful. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Read further here.


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