SDG

UNLEASH Plus – FAQ

1. Who can apply to UNLEASH Plus?
UNLEASH Plus is designed for young innovators worldwide who are solving sustainability problems in alignment with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Applicants may be social entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, or activists who have an early-stage solution but seek support to test further, refine, and plan its launch. Participants do not need to be working on their initiatives full-time to qualify for the program. Previous experience participating in UNLEASH programs is beneficial, but it is not required.

Qualifying criteria for UNLEASH Plus include:

  • At least 2 team members in the applying team committed to program participation.
  • A tested prototype of a solution
  • The solution must be responsive to one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Documented feedback, references, or testimonials from early testing with real users.
  • Ability to commit at least 4 hours per team per week for the duration of the program.
  • Less than 50,000 USD raised to date.

Please note: UNLEASH refers to its program participants as “Talents”.

2. Can I apply individually to UNLEASH Plus without other team members?

No, applicants must apply to the UNLEASH Plus program with a minimum of two team members. The requirement ensures that enough team members can distribute and manage the amount of work required by the program.

3. How much time will I need to dedicate to UNLEASH Plus if I am admitted to the program?

The UNLEASH Plus program is a six-month commitment and requires at least 4 hours per team per week on average for the duration of the entire program.

4. I am interested in several SDGs; can I apply through multiple solutions?

No, we are limiting applications to just one solution per team or team member. While we are incredibly impressed by the entrepreneurial pursuits of the UNLEASH community and prospective participants we have not yet worked with, we encourage you to pick just one idea that you and your team are genuinely committed to launching. By limiting applications in this way, we will be able to select and support innovations that have the most potential for impact. 

5. If I join UNLEASH Plus, can I still apply to other UNLEASH programs?

Yes! We encourage prospective participants and alumni of past UNLEASH programs to be active in the community and participate in other events and programs. For example, many UNLEASH Ambassadors were prior Organizers or Participants of local and regional UNLEASH events. If admitted to UNLEASH Plus, we simply ask that you prioritize attending required program elements to make the most of the program.

6. Do we have the ability to change team members during the official program? 

Yes, we understand that sometimes it is necessary to make changes within the team due to differences in vision, priorities, and goals. However, all teams must have two team members throughout the program, and we ask that these changes be made within the first two weeks of the program if you are selected.

7. Where will the program take place?

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to run the program entirely online again this year, using platforms that ensure we provide an inclusive opportunity for participants to access and participate in the program from anywhere in the world. Ideally, the program’s third phase is usually held as an in-person component, and we hope to revive the in-person gathering soon. Until then, the program remains entirely online without compromising on quality or experience.

8. Are we allowed to participate in additional/other incubator programs while participating in the UNLEASH Plus program?

Participation in UNLEASH Plus does not stop teams from co-incubating or participating in other programs. However, the teams must be able to commit the required time for UNLEASH Plus. Past experience has shown that the teams that have invested the time and energy in getting the most out of the program have had the most valuable experiences. Because UNLEASH Plus is focused on early-stage ventures, the skills and knowledge gained should also increase team capacity to join future advanced acceleration programs.

9. How will the UNLEASH Plus program support us financially?

UNLEASH does not directly invest in or fund the solutions but acts as a bridge in the solutions’ access to equity-free grants. Our partners provide grants at the final Dragon’s Den event, and we offer many opportunities for teams to meet with investors/ funders during and after the program.

10. What happens during the UNLEASH Plus Program?

The program supports teams with an early-stage prototype to become an impactful social venture. UNLEASH Plus enables teams to create a compelling and inclusive start-up strategy, build a cohesive vision and team, develop clear financials towards commercial viability, determine fundraising goals, develop a go-to-market approach, and measure their impact. Participants access appropriate learning materials, join interactive workshops, and receive direct support from world-class experts. Teams also have the opportunity to receive ongoing mentorship throughout the program to support them in their growth and learning journey. In addition, facilitated connections to investors and partners are made throughout the program to accelerate teams’ intended positive impact.

11. What happens during Phase 1?

Kick-off and Introduction is the first phase of the program. It is an inspiring and practical two-day event that kicks off the UNLEASH Plus program and ensures teams are set on a trajectory to reach new heights. Participants will meet the other passionate youth from around the world in their UNLEASH Plus 2021 cohort, engage with the mentors who will accompany them throughout this journey, and gain alignment within their teams around their visions and priorities to inform their six-month plan during the program.

12. What happens during Phase 2?

Virtual Learning Program and Solutions Development is the second phase of the program. It is the core 21-week virtual program within UNLEASH Plus, focusing on team development, solution testing and refinement, strategy, and pitching, to launch a first complete solution that will attract the right customers, partners, and funders to accelerate their journey. Participants will learn how to run their venture in a lean way, grow a strong team, design their solution for scale, develop a financial model, raise funding, measure their impact, and bring their solution to market. Teams will also have direct access to the Potentialife program, one of the leading self-leadership and team effectiveness training programs, which leverages positive psychology (SHARP), neuroscience and technology, and serves as a core part of the program.

13. What happens during Phase 3?

Final Event and Pitches to funders is the third phase of the program. It is the four-day grand finale of UNLEASH Plus, where teams receive intensive support from world-class experts to refine their strategies, meet with potential partners, and pitch their solutions to investors awarding cash prizes at the Dragons’ Den. By the end of the program, teams will leave prepared to continue their journey towards growth and contribution to sustainability.

14. Are the teams provided with resources or support to help work through obstacles and challenges that come up?

Through the Virtual Learning Program, the core focus is Solutions Development and team building. It focuses on helping the teams with peer-to-peer learning and overall team development. Participants learn how to run their venture in a lean way and escalate their solutions. We provide vital support in overcoming challenges and obstacles throughout the six-month journey and beyond through the UNLEASH Plus core team, access to mentors, and a network of world-class experts available to teams for various types of support.

15. Is there a limit on the number of experts we can connect with throughout the program?

No, there is no limit for the teams from gaining the most! We encourage teams to connect with as many experts as will be valuable to them. Of course, teams should be mindful of the expert’s time and always come prepared with a specific plan for discussion and key questions to consider.

16. How does the program ensure its quality in a virtual setup?

UNLEASH Plus uses multiple platforms to maintain the program quality in a virtual setup while remaining accessible to our diverse cohort of teams joining from around the world. Teams have access to various platforms and tools that enable a high-quality and inclusive experience that still provides meaningful learning and engagement. The program also includes different types of engaging events, activities, and learning structures to ensure a dynamic and integrated program experience that directly brings UNLEASH’s passion and energy to participants.

17. How do the teams benefit from having access to the UNLEASH Community Platform?

The UNLEASH Community platform is the core resource at your disposal to access and connect with the broader UNLEASH network of thousands of youth social entrepreneurs and leaders, hundreds of partners, and an extensive network of experts. The platform is an invite-only space where you are enabled to communicate with anyone who inspires you and seek out collaboration opportunities. We encourage you to have your profiles updated and maximize the most benefit of having access to the entire platform that includes UNLEASH alumni from all our programs and activities.

18. Are there any desirable skills or qualities that would help a team gain the most from this program?

Come with an open mind, removing all the silos of the “can’t do” approach. Come with a “can do” approach, a positive and resilient mindset, and a willingness to learn and grow. There are no specific academic backgrounds essential to apply for the program. All of our programs will help provide a strong foundation for learning to ensure they are accessible and valuable for participants no matter what level of prior innovation or entrepreneurship experience they might have. 

19. How does the UNLEASH Plus program provide accommodations or support for persons with disabilities?

UNLEASH is dedicated to creating an inclusive and accessible program for all persons. Persons with disabilities who need to request reasonable accommodations during the application process or program engagement should communicate their request to [email protected].

20. What if not all team members all speak/read/write fluent English; can we still apply and participate?

The program will be conducted in English as the primary language to accommodate diverse teams joining from many different regions around the globe. Teams need to have a basic working knowledge of English in order to engage in the program fully. We recognize that some teams may include members with varying degrees of comfortability in English, which is acceptable as long as a team is able to participate in the program thoroughly and will be able to complete the Solution Plan and all pitching in English.

21. Are all members of the teams required to participate in all program components?

We recommended that all the team members participate in the program activities and workshops. As a team, you are likely to gain value holistically when all your members are engaged in the strategy, growth, and learning together. However, it is not required for all team members to participate in every workshop or activity; at least two members must be present in each applicable session. Note that the Kick-Off is a requirement for the program to ensure all teams start with a strong foundation and an understanding of the program.

22. What if our team does not have access to consistent internet or a computer? Does UNLEASH provide any support?

Unfortunately, at this point, UNLEASH cannot provide the teams with access to a computer or internet. The teams are responsible for ensuring their access to a consistent internet and a computer or a laptop by themselves. If a team has persistent challenges with internet connectivity, they can ask for support by writing to [email protected].

23. Does UNLEASH own the Intellectual Property Rights or a Patent of the solutions created or the solutions that participate in any UNLEASH programs?

No, UNLEASH does not own or claim to own any Intellectual Property (IP) rights, Patents or ownership of any solutions created or those that participate in any of our programs, including in UNLEASH Plus. Teams maintain their own IP for their solutions.