Daniel Epstein, the founder of Unreasonable Group+ The Unreasonable Institute, had a sincere desire to take the lessons he learned from running the first few years of the Institute into international waters. After seeing the traction of the model of the Unreasonable Institute, he was excited to apply the model in a new way. So when Luke Jones, the Chief of Staff of Semester at Sea (a study abroad program that takes place on a ship as it sails around the globe), reached out to Daniel to brainstorm avenues for collaboration, he couldn’t refuse the invitation. In the fall of 2011, they decided to meet during a short voyage on Semester at Sea’s ship, the MV Explorer. After a few spontaneous meetings and whiteboard sessions, the excitement between the two of them was palpable. They agreed the opportunity to take some of the world’s most promising tech companies, who were leveraging business to solve serious social and environmental challenges, and put them on a ship as it ported in 14 countries, was the opportunity of a lifetime! Within only a matter of months, this original crazy idea quickly began to manifest itself into the first global experiment in entrepreneurship of its kind. It was then, in January of 2012, that Luke and Daniel teamed up with George Kembel, the founder of Stanford’s d.school, and together they committed to launching Unreasonable at Sea.
But the story of Unreasonable at Sea goes back much further than the inception of this accelerator program. It began in the Spring of 2007, when Daniel, a wide-eyed adolescent, was lucky enough to study abroad and set sail on Semester at Sea as a student. Throughout the semester he, along with the 600 students who were also part of the program, ported in 16 countries around the world as the ship sailed throughout the waters of the southern hemisphere. It was this voyage around the world that exposed Daniel first hand to the massive social and environmental challenges that we face in the 21st century. The experience also branded Daniel with a belief that entrepreneurship and markets were the most powerful tools at our disposal to turn these issues into opportunities, and to solve them at scale. He became obsessed with this belief and as Daniel likes to say, it pushed his foot on the accelerator to create the Unreasonable Institute.
Today, the experience that caused Daniel to work fanatically on the Unreasonable Institute is coming full circle with Unreasonable at Sea. Semester at Sea, the study abroad program that ensured the Unreasonable Institute became a reality is now joining forces with Unreasonable to launch the first program of its kind. Ever.
(it was really long so we took the liberty of shorting it)
Written April 2007:
“So After having a quick glimpse of this world, after tasting the foods, meeting the peoples, observing their practices, exploring places beyond the beauty of words, studying new disciplines and meeting new friends, I have to say that I have realized one thing if nothing more. We have the capacity to make this world a great place for everyone to live in, and we have the capacity to continue exploitation, abuse, environmental degradation and to forget the lessons of our shared past and the predictions of our shared future…
…The beautiful and the ugly, the elegant and the vulgar, the spiritual and the profane. This was the world as seen through my eyes on Semester at Sea: Where the enticing scent of cloves and cherry blossoms battled the miasma of open sewers and rotting rubbish for dominance. I had seen poverty before. I had seen poverty, but nothing to prepare me for some of the things that I witnessed along the way.
Juxtaposed to this poverty, was opportunity, wielded in the hands of entrepreneurs and scaled by the power of markets. The opportunities we have available to us for creating a better world are greater than ever before in the history of humankind… even as write this very letter we currently have enough food and water for everyone, medicines to cure diseases and to prevent epidemics that needlessly plague millions of people; transportation systems that can deliver life’s essentials to even the most remote corners of the planet; the ability to raise literacy levels and to provide Internet services that could make it possible for every person on the planet to communicate with every other person; tools for conflict resolution that could render wars obsolete; technologies that explore both the vastness of space and the most minute subatomic energy. We have sufficient resources to accomplish all of the above, and much more. We just need to come together in our shared humanity and ensure we innovate to realize our potential. I believe entrepreneurs will be the individuals at the forefront of this global movement. Entrepreneurs seem to be a rare breed of humanity. A breed who look at issues and get blind-sided by a sense of opportunity. No matter how unfortunate the circumstance, entrepreneurs transform challenges into fortune…
…Most notably, on this trip I have realized that the only way we will transcend our current underpinnings will be not as individuals, not as nations, and not as states; but as people bound together in humanity. Our solutions will transcend borders and cultures. There is a common thread woven throughout all of us that binds us all together in this world. Whatever tomorrow has in store for us will inevitably be shared amongst us all. Tomorrow is today’s mystery…. I kind of like that.”