My first Boulder Denver New Tech! Amazing!
The July 12, 2011 edition of BDNT featured speakers from The Unreasonable Institute, along with local favorite BumperTunes. I was really, really stoked on the international group of innovators that talked about their Unreasonable projects.
Unreasonable reminds me why I moved to Boulder. It shows a complete lack of fear for the unknown. And that’s badass.
On to the presentations:
Platform connecting musicians and their original music (jingles??) with content producers who need audio for commercials, podcasts, etc.
I was really impressed by Kit’s candidness. “It felt awesome to get money from a customer we didn’t know”. “We built the whole CMS on WordPress”. “Just get it out there”. These are things you read about in books and blogs of successful entrepreneurs, but don’t always hear broadcasted to an audience of 400. A ton of potential—maybe look at putting the payment plan on a scale to accommodate different skill/experience among musicians?
Bicycle sharing system in Mumbai.
My favorite presentation of the night; I’ve got a weakness for bicycles and Raj was hilarious.In Boulder, bCycle is convenient. In Mumbai, it could change lives. Awesome.
Microfinance platform that allows lenders to re-invest in specific projects.
Microfinance (at reasonable borrowing rates) is mostly cool with me, but I think part of this presentation went over my head. Different from Kiva, yet also partnered with Kiva? Couldn’t see the distinction. There was also some skepticism from a questioner about the for-profit model, but if that means InVenture won’t be harrassing people on the Pearl Street Mall for donations, I’m all for it. =)
Anemia testing technology that doesn’t require a blood prick.
Another great presenter (the two Indian dudes knocked it out of the park). Compelling, simple solution to what’s obviously a huge problem. I think the model is also applicable to tons of other diseases/conditions in the developing world.
More efficient solar water heaters for the developing world
From a dollars and cents perspective, I think this has the most potential of any presentation. They’re tapping into an enormous (and obviously growing) market, with a superior product (at least to the untrained eye). Having spent a month in Guatemala last year and risked similar genital-electrification (gentrification??), I can testify that it addresses a pressing need.
Cheap effective water filters for disaster response
Immediately grabbed my attention: “what the hell is that huge camelbak?” As a New Orleanian, this one resonated. If America can’t solve water-supply issues in its own backyard, obviously something disruptive needs to happen to provide water after disasters in places like Haiti, Africa, etc. I dug Robert Reich’s suggestion of a TOMs model: when an outdoorsman in the States buys a filtering system, one is donated to an NGO working in the developing world.
To sum it up:
I don’t know much about the genesis of The Unreasonable Institute, but I picture a powerful blend of quiet humility and dogged determination to build something great. It’s humble: by the very definition of its mission the Institute promotes the advancement of others. And yet, it’s great for the same reason: each successfully incubated startup builds up the reputation and brand. That’s a pretty amazing, self-sustaining loop, especially when you think about the scale of the startups above: one homerun could change the lives of millions.