Introducing Unusual Academy
The only program designed to equip seed-stage enterprise founders with the tactics, network and funding to win — and win big.
This October, we’ll bring together a select group of remarkable founders in the Bay Area who want to level up as leaders. Over the course of seven weekly sessions, they’ll work with an unprecedented roster of master practitioners who’ll provide specific, nitty-gritty advice for overcoming major early-stage challenges. At the same time, they’ll get a meaningful investment of capital (up to $1M) and the connections they need to pull past their competition.
Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. PST on August 28.
We know company builders have no time to spare. That’s why every detail of the Academy has been meticulously crafted to provide value founders actually need but have a hard time finding. We've identified the seven most vital challenges early entrepreneurs have to face, and found the perfect person to teach based on their experience mastering the exact same thing. Here are just a few of them:
Founder & CEO, Appdynamics, Co-Founder, Unusual
Teaching how to source, maximize and extract value from early customer conversations — learned from 10+ years building successful enterprise businesses.
Author of Originals, Give and Take, Option B, Professor of Psychology and Management, Wharton
Teaching how to grow fast and continuously as a leader, so you can take on the unknown unknowns that come with rapid scale.
President & CEO, Wealthfront, Co-founder & Partner, Benchmark
Teaching how to run a tight, compelling fundraising process, based on his observation of thousands of pitches (including his own).
Executive Coach to leaders at Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest
Teaching exercises for emotional strength and resilience that have helped name-brand leaders weather ups and downs while keeping their teams energized.
Strategic Messaging Consultant, Author Launching to Leading
Teaching how to build your story, messaging and positioning platform for breakthrough, impact and growth.
Founder & CEO, Nuru International, Former U.S. Marine Force Recon
Teaching how to build durable teams and operations through stress and volatility.
Human Capital Expert
Teaching best practices for building indestructible Human Resources.
Each session will be broken up into three parts (an experiential approach we’ve seen work wonders in our past lives):
Everyone leaves every session with knowledge and a to-do list they can use immediately. This is our promise to founders. We’re committed to helping them reach their full potential, not just as CEOs, but as humans, too.
This Academy cohort is for enterprise founders at every point in their early-stage journey. Let’s say you’re sitting at your day job but can’t stop scribbling an idea on the backs of napkins, envelopes, or whatever you can find — Unusual Academy is for you. You don’t need an official deck or an LLC. There’s no such thing as too early.
Likewise, if you’ve closed your first round and already have a small team — Unusual Academy is for you. Any founder who’s raised up to $7M can apply to sharpen their strategy and lay the right foundation for future growth. The material applies to every entrepreneur looking to gain a serious edge on their way to Series A.
You should apply if you want to master:
To give founders a truly unusual advantage, we’re pairing this learning experience with the capital founders need to put it to work. Depending on how far along you are, we’ll invest $250,000 to $1 million as a standard note. You’ll get the money upfront, and it converts to equity only when you raise your next round — boosting your valuation and giving you access to all the other resources that come with being a part of the Unusual family.
Essentially, we’re inviting founders to learn from the best minds in the business while extending their runway. We want to make it a stone-cold no-brainer for the most promising early-stage entrepreneurs to take this ride with us and crack the ceiling on what we can achieve together. In the process, we're looking forward to partnering with founders hailing from a variety of backgrounds and experiences — the more unusual the better.
If you can’t make this fall’s session or you don’t live in the Bay Area, sign up here and we’ll keep you posted on future programs.
Q: When and where are the sessions? Do I have to be present for all of them?
Sessions will be held for three hours every Wednesday between October 3 and November 21 at Goodwin Proctor in Redwood City. That’s 21 hours spent to learn what the average founder aspires to figure out in a year. For this reason, it’s critical that everyone is able to attend every session. Note that acceptance is contingent on your ability to be there.
Q: How many founders or teams will be accepted into the program?
The cohort will include between 6 and 8 startup teams. We're intent on keeping the experience small so that everyone gets to spend quality, interactive time with the master practitioners.
Q: Are the terms of the convertible notes you offer negotiable?
No. To maintain fairness and consistency, all Academy companies will receive standard financing terms.
Q: Can I apply if I don’t officially have a company or proven concept yet?
Absolutely! No idea is too early for Unusual Academy.
Q: So what’s the benefit of the Academy?
First and foremost, you'll get access to some of the best entrepreneurs and investors to ever play the game. Their knowledge and insights will help you get over critical hurdles at every stage in your company’s growth. Next, the funding opportunity is a pretty sweet deal. If accepted, you'll receive between $250,000 and $1M of non-dilutive capital to fund your company’s growth.
Q: What's the application process and timing like?
Applications will open on August 15 and close on August 28. We'll review and host in-office interviews between September 17 and 19. We'll share admissions decisions the following week.
Q: Can I attend sessions via video conference or over the phone?
No. For now, all participants need to attend in person.
Q: Will you be running more Academy programs? In other geographies?
This is definitely not our only rodeo. We’re looking forward to running more Academy programs and keeping you up to date on those opportunities. Sign up above to make sure you’re on our radar, and we’ll let you know if we’re coming to a city near you.
Q: How much revenue do I need to apply for Unusual Academy?
None! Our Academy if focused on finding entrepreneurs who are at any stage of founding a new company — from concept to MVP to revenue generation.
Q: I’ve already previously raised a seed round. Am I no longer eligible?
You are definitely eligible! One of the key goals of the Academy is to support not only founders who are just kicking off, but also those who are looking to bridge between their Seed and Series A fundraising efforts.
Q: How does Unusual determine how much money each company will receive?
The amount of funding ($250K to $1M) will be tailored to the amount of progress you've made on your concept or company. We'll look at several factors in our decision-making process, including the viability of the idea, traction, team strength and growth potential.