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Applications now open for new social entrepreneurship business accelerator program

Unreasonable Lab Virginia seeks to support entrepreneurs interested in launching new businesses that aim to tackle social and environmental challenges.

Trevor Dickerson



Virginia is for lovers. But it’s also for change makers, visionaries and startups. A great place for Southern cuisine, outdoor adventures on the James River and a growing craft brewery scene, it’s easy to overlook the fact that upwards of 30% of Richmonders live below the poverty line. Looking at the broader picture, almost 12% of Virginians are classified as poor, affecting 15.9% of young adults under the age of 18 and restricting their access to quality education and the labor market.

A new business accelerator program is aiming to change this reality by supporting business ideas that have the power to tackle social and environmental problems facing us all. The new program, Unreasonable Labs, will take place in Richmond from September 15th-22nd. This business model validation lab is a seven-day accelerator for early or idea-stage entrepreneurs. Over four full and two half days, the program will help these entrepreneurs rapidly identify and validate the foundational assumptions of their business models.

“We are treating this lab as an experiment to test the market demand for a support program specifically tailored to the needs of emerging social entrepreneurs in Virginia,” said co-founder Anika Horn. “We want this Lab to be a community effort and hope to engage many stakeholders from the City government to community organizations, the nonprofit sector, creative industry, universities and colleges, investors, the B Corp community, and so on. We know we can only run a successful program if we can find great applicants that embrace the concept of social entrepreneurship as well as mentors, sponsors and supporters who are excited about test-driving new formats to spur innovation and social progress in our community.”

The business model validation lab will provide entrepreneurs with a step-by-step methodology to rapidly and systematically validate their venture’s business model. In these seven days, participating startups will get guidance in testing the core assumptions of their businesses. They’ll get advice from 15 local mentors, talk to customers, build prototypes, and build out a strategic plan.

The new program joins a robust ecosystem of startups and entrepreneurs to solve its socio-economic challenges including Lighthouse Labs, the Greater Richmond Chamber, Virginia’s Commonwealth University and social pioneers such as UnboundRVA and the B Corp community, who are driving forces behind fostering entrepreneurship and social change. Unreasonable Lab will join this existing entrepreneurial infrastructure to create a new breed of mission-driven startups.

Applications are open for interested entrepreneurs from Central Virginia and all along the East Coast who seek to address a specific challenge in their venture. Beyond seeking applicants, the program is also looking for mentors, sponsors, and volunteers.

To learn more and apply, visit the Unreasonable Lab website.

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.