The only program designed to equip seed-stage founders with the tactics, network and funding to win — and win big.
Every fall, we bring together select groups of remarkable founders who want to level up as leaders. Over the course of seven sessions in the Bay Area, they work with an unprecedented roster of master practitioners who provide specific, nitty-gritty advice for overcoming major early-stage challenges. At the same time, these companies are eligible to receive a meaningful investment of capital (up to $1M) and the connections they need to pull past their competition.
Applications are now closed.
We are not accepting applications at this time. Please check back for updates.
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.
CEO of DataStax
Teaching how founders can prioritize when they have many competing and urgent projects.
CEO and Co-Founder, Zola
Teaching how to figure out what your next big innovation will be, and how to create a product development culture and process that leads to high quality product throughput.
Instructor, Northwestern Medill & Stanford GSB, former marketing leader at Wealthfront, Twitter, and Google
Teaching entrepreneurs how to position their product according to their target customer, the benefits of the service they offer, and the type of market they are in.
Founder & CEO of Reforge
Teaching how to build a growth model based on growth loops so that you can achieve exponential growth— learned from implementing as VP of Growth at HubSpot and teaching to 100+ companies.
Each session will be broken up into three parts (an experiential approach we’ve seen work wonders in our past lives):
A case-based, practical lesson presented by the master practitioner
An interactive workshop where participants apply tactics to their own situations
Mentorship and feedback from the whole class to turn ideas into action
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.
Unusual Academy is for 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 $10M 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.
You should apply if you want to master:
Getting your first customers
Messaging your product and value proposition
Devising an early sales process
Hiring and compensating high-caliber talent
The ideal process and pitch for your next fundraise
Managing yourself as a leader
Leading a fast-growing team to mutual success
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 where your company is on its journey, founders are eligible for an investment of up to $1 million. 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.
Join our community to hear about future Academy sessions and other opportunities. We want you to be the first to know.
Q: When and where are the sessions? Do I have to be present for all of them?
We have yet to release the dates and location for the next Unusual Academy in the fall of 2019. There will be seven sessions, 3 hours each. 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 about 20 startup teams (this counts both enterprise and consumer tracks). We're intent on keeping the experience small so that everyone gets to spend quality, interactive time with the master practitioners.
Q: Does my company need to be incorporated to participate?
No! You can join the Academy now and accept the investment once you become incorporated later.
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 be eligible to receive up to $1M to fund your company’s growth.
Q: What's the application process and timing like?
We’ll share details about the next Academy soon. Sign up to join our mailing list and be the first to hear when this information is released.
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?
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 eligible companies 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.