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Want to change reality?

Auditions are Closed


Do you look out at the world and think — this should just work differently? Ever pitch your friends on what you would launch or build, if only you had the skills, the resources, the time? Do you hear the stories of innovators and entrepreneurs and wonder if that could be you?

If so, you'll want to watch  Business Unusual.

You‘ve seen those business reality shows where contestants pitch

their products in hopes of winning big bucks from an investor. 

Business Unusual is completely different. It‘s about using the tools

of the entrepreneur to launch a different world.

You‘ve seen shows where chefs, designers and singers compete to

show they‘ve got what it takes. On Business Unusual, innovators 

compete to change their workplaces and schools, their industries

and communities - their world. To replace the way we do things

today with something better.

(WESTON, CT) – Amy Kalafa, Executive Producer, announced that A-RAY Productions is filming a TV pilot for the new reality competition series, Business Unusual. The pilot episode introduces twelve teams of innovators, among them, MBAs, garage tinkerers, engineers and idealists, each with a passion to replace failing systems around them by building new solutions to meet our most pressing needs. Business Unusual takes a radical idea — that we need to ask the people closest to today’s problems to innovate tomorrow’s world — and turns it into televised drama. 

As host Alejandro Crawford said in a recent Forbes profile, “Far too often we’re investing in the same people, with the same assumptions, coming up with the same kinds of ideas to solve the problems that seem pressing in their narrow world.” Utilizing Crawford’s RebelBaseTM  innovation platform, which equips entrepreneurial rebels with accessible workshops and tools to launch their dreams, the teams have been refining their projects since November, and are now preparing for the main event of the Pilot Episode, which is their audition pitch in front of the Business Unusual judges. The judges will determine which teams move on to the next episode in the competition. 

“Thanks to the Roddenberry Impact Award, we’ve been able to move forward with production of the pilot episode. Doing the bulk of the filming remotely has allowed us to include teams from Bangladesh and Palestine, so we are truly mentoring innovators poised to make a global impact,” says Kalafa. 

The innovations featured include a three-wheeled electric roadster that has motorheads and environmentalists drooling, a marketplace for hard-to-find products for the differently-abled, a construction startup that renovates distressed properties with top-tier sustainability standards for low-income residents, a rental service for kids clothing, and an enclosed last-mile delivery system on rails that uses minuscule amounts of energy to move small goods rapidly and efficiently.

“Each of these entrepreneurial rebels is envisioning how the world could work differently, how something superior could meet needs that aren’t being met,” Crawford says.  “We’re helping them access the tools, resources, and talent they need to launch or scale their ventures,” adds Kalafa. 

“The diversity of projects and presenters is inspiring, and some of the ideas have the potential to change the world,” says Will Carlin, CEO of Speakable, Inc., an organization that develops high-stakes presentations for both startups and Fortune 500 executives. The Speakable methodology powers the RebelBase learning module that entrepreneurial rebels use to develop their pitches. “It will be interesting to see which entrepreneurs can create and deliver a presentation that’s worthy of their ideas.” With a track record of 57 out of 57 successful pitches, Will is lending his expertise to Business Unusual to prepare contestants for their auditions with the judges. 

Over the course of 13 episodes, the teams will build prototypes, test their markets, crunch the numbers, court partners, measure impact and prove their potential to transform the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the supply chains that feed our industries, the environment, and the institutions that meet our communities’ needs.


A panel of six judges, with deep experience in impact investing, social entrepreneurship, organizational development, business operations and policy making, act as mentors to the teams, coaching them through the competition as well as making the tough decisions about which teams are eliminated along the way.


Kalafa expects the pilot episode to be completed in late spring, at which time she and Crawford will entertain competing proposals from networks and series sponsors.

You provide the ideas and drive. Business Unusual provides the stage and platform for you to transform your great idea into a viable innovation. 



We can only consider applicants who have completed all 3 steps. If selected as a potential contestant, you’ll also be contacted by our producing team for an informational conversation via video call.  


Make a 1-3 minute video. Got a smartphone, maybe a friend who can help? Great. It doesn’t need to be professionally produced, but quality does matter, so make sure your lighting, audio and framing are good. What matters most is how you and your great idea are presented. Be honest, be creative, and show off your personality, your skills and your style. 

Note: videos must be 3 minutes or less.


Fill out the application form here. (see details below) If you’re applying as a team, you’ll need to provide information for each team member (Teams can have up to four members). A link to your video is required on the application form. Please note that video must be submitted as a link only (YouTube, Vimeo, your website, facebook are acceptable link hosts). Video sent as an attachment will not be considered.  Submissions must be received by midnight EST on October 31st, 2020.


If you are selected as a potential contestant, we will contact you with detailed instructions for the next steps, but here’s a hint: We’ll want to see how far you’ve researched, thought through, tested and proven out your idea. (Don’t worry, we’ll provide the steps you need to take.) You’ll be asked to lay out what you’ve got on the RebelBaseTM business builder platform in the following categories:

  1. Problem

  2. Solution

  3. Target + Market

Red Gradient






Thanks for submitting!

  • Who is eligible?
    We will determine eligibility on a case by case basis. Generally, we are looking for contestants with projects, ventures, businesses or initiatives that are in the early stage of development and have not already received significant funding or investment. You can be an intrapreneur with a great idea for your workplace, or an individual with a community service project, or a team with the next "unicorn" start up.
  • Where will the pilot episode be filmed?  Will I need to travel?
    Contestants on the pilot episode will not be required to travel. We’ll use video conferencing tools as well as video filmed by the contestants themselves. Contestants on the pilot episode will not be required to travel.
  • What about social distancing?  Will I be safe?
    We will have protocols in place for your safety during the production of the pilot episode. Your contact with teammates, mentors, judges and producing staff can be 100% remote.
  • What is the timeframe?
    Production is planned for the fall of 2020. If selected, you will be scheduled for 2 or 3 video calls of about 1 hour each, plus several hours of additional self-filming supervised by our producers.
  • What happens after the pilot episode?
    If the series gets the green light based on the pilot, we’ll come back to you to confirm your interest in continuing on as a contestant for the season.
  • What’s the series commitment?  Will I need to take a leave of absence from my job or studies?
    Contestants can participate on top of work or school, as long as you have flexibility in your hours and can commit to the production schedule. Anticipate filming about 8 hours per episode for up to 12 additional episodes over a 6 week period. In addition, you'll need to put in at least that much time not filming, but working on development of your project to keep you competitive.
  • Do I need to sign a nondisclosure form?
    Yes, if selected for the pilot episode you will need to sign nondisclosure and release forms.
  • Will I need a doctor’s release?
    Yes, we’ll need a physician’s note stating that you are in sufficient physical and mental health to participate in the pilot and / or the series.
  • Do I need personal references?
    Yes, we will ask you to provide three personal or professional references.



Today we must remake entire industries and help communities reinvent themselves while we generate jobs for a new generation. To turn the tide, we need true and exciting stories about how regular people confront tragedy and fear with resourcefulness, teamwork, and entrepreneurship. As the world confronts unforeseen challenges, we need more than business as usual. We need BusinessUnusual, where regular people use the tools of the entrepreneur to launch a different world.

Those of  us who love reality TV competitions are captivated by watching regular people strive to master the craft of the pastry chef, find their true love, dance or sing their hearts out. Following this entertaining format, Business Unusual spotlights the process of building a business with social values, featuring real people, in the game to earn impact as much as income. 

Our competitors go through the excitement and trials of launching bold experiments to replace the broken systems that are failing us. Contestants strive to advance to the next challenge, while judges evaluate their work, from product prototypes to social media campaigns, for its capacity to disrupt industries and change the way we live.

Over the course of 13 episodes, teams pilot their enterprises and prove their potential to transform the food we eat,  the clothes we wear, the supply chains that feed our industries, and the institutions that meet our communities’ needs. As in a classic competition show, contestants are eliminated until the final winner is proclaimed.


Our contestants come from colleges, chambers of commerce, incubators and accelerators serving local and regional communities, and inside companies, basement studios and garage workshops. In an epoch when the American dream can seem embattled, we’re putting the power in the hands of entrepreneurs and inviting viewers to cheer them on.

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