SLP Chennai : Week 1Sept. 23, 2014, 12:05 p.m.
Fellow Blog by Srinath Ranga The long wait was finally over! 20th September 2014 had been marked in my calendar for over a month now. It was starting day of the Startup Leadership Program (SLP) Chennai 2014 batch. 12 participants culled from over 80 applicants gathered at the Fox Mandal office close to the Gemini Flyover anxious to know what awaited them. We had at least two participants from outside Chennai, one from Bengaluru and another from near Pondicherry. We will have more info' about each of our participants and their ventures in the coming blogs so will keep the suspense on for now. Most of us had already started our entrepreneurial journey and officially in business. We hope the couple who were testing the waters would soon join us. Sabin Rodriguez, the energetic Chennai SLP Leader who was an SLP Chennai 2013 fellow ensured that the participants were given the right directions and quickly ushered to our seats. Unlike at other events, SLP is particularly clear that participants arrive on time else pay a nominal fine. Luckily most adhered to this deadline and we got started not much later than the scheduled 10.00 am kick-off. Sandeep Mukhi, Regional Director of SLP had flown in from Mumbai for the event and he quickly gave an overview of the SLP program including tracing the history and the objectives. Giving back to society is something that the SLP founders like Anupendra Sharma are very particular about and something close to me and many others who have opted to join the program. Thank you Sandeep for making it to Chennai and we are quite confident that the SLP Chennai 2014 batch will strive to exceed your expectations. All the participants and Sabin & Anand Kumar (the 2nd SLP Coordinator) had about 3 minutes to give others a glimpse of their personal side and what led them on the lonely road to enterpreurship. Some of the stories were very humbling to listen to and I definitely would love to deep-dive into the products and services that hopefully will wow the users & consumers soon. Interspersed between the partipants' presentations were two thoroughly enjoyable talks from two achievers with contrasting delivery styles. Venkat Rangan, Founder & CEO of of Marketsimplified.com, Chennai spoke at length (without any slides) of his struggles and dare I say 'rags to riches' story. Market Simplified Inc. provides a SaaS mobile solution for brokerage and financial institutions in the world. Starting at an age when one cannot even vote and having built Market Simplified to a team size of 125, Venkat Rangan walked us through the entire gamut of highs and lows that an entrepreneur has to go through to succeed. His anecdotes about struggles in Japan while trying to get a product developed and his discussions with some of his prospective clients were eye-opening indeed. Seeing a friend squaring off market positions on a mobile through a a complex email/sms workflow and watching his retired father-in-law and other retail investors "eroding the family treasure" were sparks that led to his current venture. Quoting hockey great Wayne Gretzky, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been", Venkat was able to foresee the mobile and internet on mobile revolution and placed his bets wisely. This was one big takeaway for all of us as we so often struggle to identify the trends and technology choices that we should ride on. The second speaker Vasan, Founder of 1000lookz.com had the group in splits with his visual messages about the pitfalls and perils in the startup's journey. 1000Lookz is the first Indian provider of a one a kind virtual makeover and try-on simulation technology. Couched with images of the rabbit, donkey, horses & the buffalo and Tamil comedy actor Vadivel's self-deprecating humor in short audio clips, the do's and don'ts for a startup were linked to the startup journey in ways that ensure that this talk would resonate with us for the rest of our lives. Another point that Vasan emphasized was the need to persevere for atleast 2 years before abandoning any effort. His team had worked on the presentation for about 8 days and we wish to thank them for their superb effort. The roles of official photographer, blogger (yours truly), late fee fine collector, Chief Fun Officer and the need to make use of each of the classes (Class CEO to be finalized) were also discussed and volunteers identified. The day ended with official SLP photographs and participants having to prepare 4-5 line bios. The SLP program is unlike many other events and programs and it was evident from Day 1 that it was a program with a difference. Thanks to Sabin, Sandeep & Anand for co-ordinating day 1 and making it worthwhile for all participants. It is up to the team to emulate the meticulous preparation that went into the selection and program agenda by taking upon ourselves to collaborate and make each week a big success. Do come prepared this week for a 15 minute introduction of your product/service/idea followed by an intense discussion about the viability of the same. Looking forward to the meeting this Saturday and all future SLP events.