Why Startup Leadership ?
Startup Leadership is a global not-for-profit organization that was founded in 2006 in Boston to educate the highest-caliber innovators and entrepreneurs to be startup CEOs and provide them with a very high quality network.
Why does Startup Leadership assess the individual and not the startup ?
We know extraordinary people will do extraordinary things, so we focus our efforts on finding such people. Startups will come and go, but by focussing on the individual, we are giving them the tools to be successful. The awards and investments raised are early proof of this concept.
What makes this Program different from a business school education ?
Our Program is not a replacement for business school, but we recognize that most great entrepreneurs will never get a formal business education. We want to provide an opportunity to those who join learn the hard and soft skills that will give them an edge in running their startups. We teach advanced concepts through activity-based learning, gaming and simulation rather than lectures or panels which are the mainstay of a formal business education. At the end of our Program, our Fellows are more sophisticated about technical issues than many who have been to business school. Our “Faculty” includes mostly Entrepreneurs, Investors and Subject Matter Experts, but it also includes Faculty from leading business schools we bring in from time to time. We also believe that anyone can be a mentor and a mentee, so we expect you to learn and teach other Fellows. We try to personalize the learning and make it interactive, so it is not lectures, or panel-style (though we use those from time to time), but much more hands-on, focussed on your problems or uses gaming and simulation. Finally, the network is highly focussed on entrepreneurs, so you’ll find that discussion around startups are not muddied by conversations about other career segments.
What makes SLP different from other incubators and accelerators ?
Incubators and accelerators generally provide real estate or money, or both. SLP provides neither. However, we use our own resources – mentors, Fellows, education and a life-long network to accelerate your startup. We also believe that famous incubators and real estate such as YCombinator, Techstars, Dream.IT, Dogpatch and MassChallenge are complementary to SLP, and you should not choose between the two, but take the best of what you can do. Many of our Fellows have benefited from doing both.
Who joins SLP ?
We look for 15-30 of the highest caliber leaders with a passion for entrepreneurship and a desire to build and maintain a vibrant entrepreneurial community are each of the cities we are in, every year.
What are the mentors like, and will I get to know them ?
Our Faculty are a combination of mentors who are entrepreneurs, investors and world experts, and professors from business school. These mentors form part of our global network. Through our directory, any Fellow anywhere should be able to get access to them.
Why does SLP put together tech, cleantech and lifesciences entrepreneurs in the same class ?
It has been scientifically proven that diversity spurs creativity. We want our Fellows to think creatively, and get questioned by those who are not familiar with the “rules” of their sectors. Much of the education of being a startup CEO is similar, so putting these groups together makes sense. However, to promote an advanced sharing of knowledge, we also break groups down into specialties with mentors and Fellows when specific subject matter is being discussed. We’ve seen the massive value created by exposing a biotech PhD to technology entrepreneurs, that has resulted in the creation of a transformative product for the biotech industry.
What will I learn ?
Over 60 hours we hope to train you to get the most advanced knowledge possible about key concepts that you need to innovate, start and lead your company. Our curriculum gets better every year based on new ideas we test, and the response we get from Fellows in the Program. Our education is personalized, and focused on solving problems and answering questions that you face in your startups, as well as giving you tools that will be useful in running your startups – whether it is interviewing people, creating compensation plans or understanding how you lead. To the active members of our community, we will continue to provide access to all of our growing materials and tools for life, so you will always have the opportunity to revisit concepts and learn about new topics.
How much work is there ?
When you join, we expect you to attend 60 hours of classroom time, and social event as far as practical. In addition, you are expected to contribute 20 hours of your own time to helping execute on a class, workshop, or another aspect of our program that builds the community. Like everything in life, you get out of SLP what you put into it.
How do Fellows interact outside class ?
You will become friends with many people in the Program, bump into them at events, hold and attend house parties, organize running events, attend weddings and become part of important life events and support groups for each other.
SLP is global. How do I take advantage of other cities and countries ?
Every Fellow has an obligation to respond to anyone else, wherever they may be. Our directory give you access to all the 500 Fellows around the world, as well as Mentors, Investors and Preferred Vendors (tried and tested by the network) around the world. You are free to transfer and encouraged to attend every chapter anywhere. We will proactively get Fellows to interact as well. Time will tell how beneficial this global network will be, but it is already starting to show its promise.
Do all SLP Fellows start companies ?
No, they do not. However, as our admissions process gets more and more competitive, we expect to trend towards more high-caliber Fellows who have startups. Since we don’t judge the startups, just the Fellows, as long as our diversity is maintained, we will tend to favor those who have started companies.
Why do we let VCs into the Program ?
We bring a small group of Analyst, Associate and Senior Associate level VCs as Fellows every year. To date we have 17 VCs. These young investors have proven their interest in helping entrepreneurs, or even being entrepreneurs themselves. These VCs are of great value to Fellows, since they demystify the investor process, give Fellows insights that they would not normally get, and become sounding boards to bounce of ideas and pitches. The experiment has been very successful and we intend to continue it.
What is SLP doing for women entrepreneurs ?
We spend a lot of time finding and recruiting women entrepreneurs and innovators into the program. By the time 2012 class is announced, we hope to have 100 or more extraordinary women in the Program. SLP has partnered or encouraged all women organizations it has found, including Astia and Girls In Tech, and continues to add others.
What is expected of me once I graduate, then what ?
Firstly, always return an email or a call from another Fellow in the program irrespective of who they may be. Our network is only as powerful as our weakest link. The network is the most important aspect.
Secondly, send other great innovators and entrepreneurs to join the program, and show up at information sessions to speak about your experiences. Every Fellow in the Program is a recruiter and a talent searcher.
Thirdly, not only be grateful if someone or something in SLP made a difference in your life or your company, tell the world about it. We have no marketing dollars nor branding strategy. You are our voice and our brand.
Are there any examples of how Fellows have benefited from SLP beyond the education ?
There are many stories, but we haven’t done a good job of writing down the anecdotes and the examples. This will change this year. Meanwhile, we’d like to point to the fact that 100 Fellows volunteer their time on admissions committee is testament to the value our Fellows place in continuing to help make this a better program. We’ll start to add written examples this year of Fellows who have benefited substantially from the Program but for now, we’re simply listing names such as Dave Greenwald (Relay – gained Strategy, Mentors, Lawyers and eventually Money), Milind Naik (Papillon – gained a new direction), Michael Mullins (Lean Startup Challenge – found CoFounders), Mike Sheeley (Runkeeper/Fitnesskeeper – gave him direction and a new startup), Vinay Johar (RChili – access) and Ajay Kulkarni (Sensobi – alpha and beta testers and product strategy and feedback). We’ll get them and others to tell their stories themselves.
Is SLP truly not-for-profit. Does it have a social mission beyond entrepreneurship ?
Yes, indeed. Entrepreneurs are a privileged group – people who have the choice to pursue their dreams. The majority of our planet does not enjoy such a luxury. This year, 11 million children will die around the world every year from preventable causes such as hunger, disease and war. Since a few leaders can make a big difference in the world, we want our Fellows to be very very successful chasing their own dreams, but then use their talents, time or wealth to making an impact on what is truly meaningful. This is the philosophy behind our motto, we’ve used since 2006 – “Be the change you want to see in this world.” Many of our Fellows are already doing a lot, but there is so much to be done, and together, this group of responsible future successful leaders can make an impact on our planet.