The 2016-17 Startup Leadership Program, Hyderabad, is looking for 25 high-potential founders


The Startup Leadership Program (SLP), an educational initiative for startup CEOs, has opened applications for the 2016–17 batch in Hyderabad. Founded in 2006 by Anupendra Sharma, a leading VC in the healthcare sector based in Boston, the programme admits around 25 Fellows every year, who attend over 12 sessions on alternate weekends. The programme has over 26 chapters in 12 countries.

At a typical SLP session, a CEO can learn all things startup-related. Evaluating the business model; generating a buzz while marketing a product; creating traction for the startup; deciding on the best incorporation; dealing with legal and IP issues as well as co-founder conflicts; and valuations and pitch-sharpening skills are among the areas the sessions cover.

With the Hyderabad chapter beginning in October 2017, the SLP is slated to spread over a period of six months. The programme will have over two monthly meetings of eight hours, each held on alternate Saturdays. At the end of the programme, startups will pitch to investors.

“All founders who attend the sessions regularly graduate in March and become lifelong members of a truly global community of outstanding leaders,” says 29-year-old Sindura Borra, Program Lead for the upcoming batch of SLP.

What’s the core idea?

The idea of starting SLP was to provide entrepreneurs with much needed support. Sindura says that being inducted into a group of 25 smart and energetic people allows them to benefit from mutual cooperation and learning.

They can also leverage the alumni network and become part of the wider startup ecosystem. They also get partner benefits including access to special events, mentoring opportunities, and discounts.

However, since the SLP is flexible and participant-driven, the quality of the cohorts determines the quality of the programme for many participants. One assured benefit, though, is that participants get to forge connections with a global network of entrepreneurs, giving them an opportunity to pitch to investors across the globe.

Today, with the growing number of startups in India, there are several programmes that are starting to come up. The Founder Institute, events like BITS Spark that mentor and invest in startups and founders, and online platforms like UpGrad that focus on training entrepreneurs with experiential learnings from other successful founders are a few such initiatives.

The application process

Once startups apply, they are shortlisted by SLP alumni and other volunteers. The shortlisted applicants are called for an interview. Sindura says they interview about 40 to 50 percent of people who apply as they want a well-rounded perspective on the applicant’s potential and his ability to add value to the programme.

“Given the limited cohort size, we are selective and we admit only 25 high-potential entrepreneurs (selection rate under 10 percent). The online application process closes on July 31 and we will release the list of selected Fellows in September,” says Sindura.

At the Hyderabad chapter, the team is planning for a much deeper integration with the city’s promising startup ecosystem. They are working on partnering with incubators like T-Hub and CIE-IIIT, accelerators like Spark 10 and also other voluntary startup communities.

“We have plans to create a mentorship model where SLP Fellows get mentored by successful entrepreneurs. We are confident that in the coming years SLP will emerge as the best pre-accelerator program in the world,” she says.

Companies and what they say

“The programme is differentiated by its focus on the individual, as opposed to just the startup. A world-class curriculum, eclectic mix of participants, and lots of immersive learning activities await the brightest few who get admitted,” says Sindura.

Successful companies that are founded and run by SLP alumni include Zippr, GrabOn, eKincare, CleanseHigh, HealthSutra, vDeliver, TinMen, ShopTap, Kahaniya, CareMotto, and many others.

The founder of CareMotto, who was a part of an earlier batch, says that while there are several points of failure in a startup journey, SLP helped him avoid some and fix the others as a group. He adds that it is perfect to accelerate entrepreneurial learning, which is much needed for first-time entrepreneurs.

Interested entrepreneurs can apply online