Should I or Shouldn’t I? 6 more reasons to apply for Startup Leadership Program!4 years ago Guest - Raghunath Koduvayur
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself.
When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch
(Apply here to be an SLP fellow of 2019-20 )
If you are an entrepreneur, investor, mentor, advisor or a startup enthusiast, the terms – accelerators and incubators keep chasing you everywhere. This was the case when I left Nokia/Microsoft to pursue my own startup journey. There were several great programs for startups, and deciding on one (if at all you need one) was not easy.
Fortunately for me, I met a friend who had graduated from Startup leadership program (SLP) few years earlier and who’s still into startups. The casual catchup made me identify the startup gaps and blind spots that I had to plug. Startup network, grass root level connections, and a peer group to brainstorm and accelerate the startup journey topped the list.
I was not looking for a formal training or an executive program (MBA and about 10 years of business leadership experience took care of those), and SLP fit perfectly into my scheme of things. Gave me the flexibility with my schedule, opportunity to attend classes anywhere in the world, focus on personal leadership, and also had a robust selection criteria.
So, after an online application, interview shortlist, and a group interview with 3 panelists and few days wait, our startup (Shoppire) and I were accepted into the Startup leadership program 2015-16 batch.
Here are some key takeaways from my experience with one of the best startup leadership programs out there.
This is also a perfect time to reflect on my journey, as SLP is inviting applications for the next batch. Application deadline: 15th August, link: www.bit.do/slphyd
Getting into SLP is equally difficult.
I am told, Hyderabad chapter had a conversion of about 1:10. It could sound small when compared to say an XLRI or IIT/IIMs admission, but remember that this is a program for fulltime entrepreneurs. Like any other startup program, SLP is highly competitive and getting an admission into one of the chapters is equally difficult and prestigious.
Exceptional batch quality and peer network
In our batch of 25, almost 1/3 of them had Masters Degrees and had worked abroad. Everyone had a startup or were kick starting a startup. The startup sizes ranged from 1 employee startup to a 100+ employee company. The batch was carefully selected to balance the diversity in terms of industry, experience, backgrounds, gender, startup phase, and so on. The advantage of this careful selection, and the network that you can reach out cannot be emphasized enough. The primary focus is on – individuals as leaders!
Mentors volunteer their time and energy
What struck me the most, was that who’s who of the Hyderabad startup ecosystem was an SLP alumni. Be it, Zippr, eKincare, Grabon, VDeliver, Pace Hospitals, Spark10 accelerator and the list goes on. And reputed startup mentors like Viiveck Verma, Phani Raj, Ramesh Loganathan, Ravi Korukonda, and several others joined our sessions and events to help the founders. And because the program is a non-profit and mentors kindly volunteer their time, it makes it even more productive. We had speakers and guests flying in from Bangalore, Pune, Chennai to help our startups succeed.
This is where I believe SLP differentiates itself from others.
Why do I think SLP is so successful?
The passion for driving SLP comes from the principles of being equal stakeholders in the program as those who started it. Inspired by John Wood (Author of Room to Read: Why I left Microsoft to change the world) who was able to ignite real pride and passion from villagers who built the school. Due to this, everyone in the program gives time to help run the program over the six months by volunteering for one or more activities. The program is run by 3-5 volunteers, 20 odd batch size, and supported by the startup ecosystem members. This builds the sort of passion and sense of ownership that a program truly deserves.
Zero equity and a nominal fees (about 15K INR for 6 months, which includes food and couple of team activities) makes it a great ROI for any entrepreneur.
How to make the most of SLP?
The best use of SLP, in my opinion is to use each other as expert consultants. You’ll find experts in every area within your batch (or their extended network). Our batch mates used to organize voluntary sessions during the week, where 5-7 of us got together and worked on someone’s real business problems. It could range from a business model canvas session, or a Javelin, to a financial modelling session, or a growth hacking one. Startups accelerated with collective wisdom and experience.
Demo day in SLP is treated like any other session. And yes, we do get serious investors and sign several deals. But the focus is on personal leadership, startup acceleration and let’s say – chasing customers’ money! Real entrepreneurs understand this difference and its importance.
Do I recommend SLP?
If you like startup madness combined with fun, believe in accelerating together, and importantly are serious about startups, then I definitely recommend SLP. If you are looking for theory, classroom training, and fundamentals, then SLP can still work for you. But you’ll need to do the heavy lifting!
Raghunath Koduvayur is global head of marketing strategy at www.tieto.com and also the founder of Shoppire. Raghu is also on the board of a retail startup, actively mentors founders, and actively scouts for angel investment opportunities across Europe and India. Raghu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @MarketingRags. Linkedin profile: www.linkedin.com/in/raghunathkoduvayur
About Startup Leadership Program – SLP is a highly selective, world-class training program for founders and innovators who want to become top startup CEOs. A lifetime peer-to-peer and mentor network for outstanding Entrepreneurs. SLP Fellows have founded nearly 1600 successful startups across 12 countries and over 27 cities. Next batch starts in September.