BOULD competes for a spot in the Unreasonable Institute -- and social change

Categories: Business

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Shane Gring.
It seems reasonable to say an unreasonable fellow like Shane Gring, 25, can tackle growing social concerns like substandard housing, environmental degradation and an unskilled workforce -- but only if he raises $10,000 by March 7.

Gring is co-Founder of team BOULD, Colorado's only finalist competing for a spot in the Unreasonable Institute -- a mentor-based accelerator startup for entrepreneurs eager to address some of the world's gravest social issues.

Four University of Colorado-Boulder graduates founded the Unreasonable Institute in 2010. Each year, the Institute selects 25 social entrepreneurs from an applicant pool of 300 contestants from sixty countries. Chosen teams -- known as "Unreasonable Fellows" -- have the opportunity to attend a six-week program to develop the entrepreneurial skills necessary to launch a venture of their own.

The catch? To become one of the 25 fellows, teams must raise $10,000 over a fifty-day period. The money raised will cover the Institute's tuition cost as well as demonstrate the effectiveness of the team's venture to gain sponsorship.

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A sketch of how the Unreasonable Institute works.
After two rounds of competitive selection, the Unreasonable institute narrowed the competition to 46, and Team BOULD is one of the finalists. The first 25 teams to raise $10,000 by the end of the allotted fifty-day period are admitted to the institute.

At this writing, BOULD is in fifth place, with $7,120 raised and 23 days remaining. Three other social ventures have already hit the $10,000 mark.

Here's a video highlighting BOULD's mission statement:

"So far we've gotten a lot of support from family and friends," Gring says. "Given that the Institute is located in Boulder, we're representing the home team and Colorado entrepreneurship, so we're getting a lot of support from that as well."

Gring is originally from Detroit, Michigan but his four partners are all Colorado natives -- CU undergraduate Shane Baldauf, plus CU alumni Stephen Lepke, Noah Moore and Brian Brunsing.

The team met on the construction site of Boulder's Habitat for Humanities and the concept of BOULD evolved from there. But the original idea came from Gring. "I was serving for AmeriCore VISTA and one of my capstones was to figure out how to make homes more green, more energy-efficient. So I really got turned onto the LEEDs program [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design], the most aggressive standard out there. I helped Habitat for Humanities reach their first LEED certified home, but at the same time, it was expensive, so I had to come up with a way to make it an affordable design."

Gring says the market was fairly easy to tap into once he was able to come up with an affordable program design, Everbuild Pro. The program is currently running in four states -- Colorado, Michigan, Alabama and North Carolina.

Even though BOULD is already a working company, Gring says he's hoping the Institute will take it to the next level. "Really, our goal is to utilize the Institute to get some credibility behind what we're doing, to really make an impact on a national stand," he says. "From a PR standpoint, it's going to be incredible, but the mentorship is really what we need. We're a young team, so we're definitely looking for some leadership."

Mentors include everyone from President of Charter Backing (Rudi's Bread) Jane Miller to Executive Producer at NBC-Universal TV Neal Baer and founder of Windhorse International Paul Polak (who's helped over seven million farmers out of poverty).

To check out what the other 45 social ventures are doing, visit the Unreasonable Marketplace website

More from our Business archive: "Boulder Daily Camera lays off seventeen, may be outsourcing ad design in India."

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