THE BLOG

Startup Leadership Program: Experience From the Inside

12/02/2014 12:07 GMT | Updated 13/04/2014 10:59 BST

Last year, I used to be part of this privileged group of people that are called entrepreneurs and enjoy being their own boss. I was introduced to the Startup Leadership Program by a former fellow who encouraged me to apply by sharing with me her own experience.

The Startup Leadership Program (SLP) is a program designed to offer a curriculum on entrepreneurship through peer-to-peer education and experiences shared by successful entrepreneurs who are invited as speakers in each class, and to prepare its fellows to embark (if they haven't already) into the entrepreneurial journey by helping them to build on their leadership skills. If you are a founder, an aspiring entrepreneur or you simply like to 'flirt' (in a professional way) with the start-up community, then keep on reading. SLP was founded in 2006 and has now expanded globally with 12 chapters growing to 20. A strong and vibrant network, SLP's fellows and alums have raised $400million to date and have some amazing exit stories, awards in competitions and plenty of fun!

I was accepted into New York's chapter in August. The admission's process was fairly competitive but enjoyable. Apart from the initial networking part, prospective fellows had to pitch their startup idea and present their so-far 'journey' in front of a group of current fellows that evaluated the application, the applicant's passion and commitment to the program and the fit to the rest of the community. In September, I moved to London and I asked to be transferred in the London chapter; I am very happy the team was able to accommodate my request and so my journey as an SLP fellow started.

Even though London's Chapter is male dominated, I am hoping that more women founders will apply to join next year. Each class takes place every two weeks, where a couple of fellows are responsible to organize it and invite speakers relevant to the subject matter. For example, I and Stonny Grow, CEO of Daddy Donkey Labs, were responsible for the Digital Marketing, PR and Customer Acquisition class and we invited Cat Fraser, CEO of FourInsight, and James Cox, MD of Tracepoint, to share their experience. Among other classes, the curriculum includes Customer Development, Financing Options, Lean Model, Leadership and Conflict Management, VC competition. Above all, SLP offers a great opportunity to meet smart and passionate people who share the love for entrepreneurship and desire to learn more and get more assets for this journey that is justly given the characterization of an 'emotional rollercoaster'.

The program is approaching its end this year, having only a few classes left until it is completed and my class graduates. It has been by far one of the most enjoyable experiences this year and I would recommend it without any reservations, as the breadth of knowledge I gained and the friendships I made are invaluable. Having returned into the corporate world, I found it even more useful as I am getting inspired by the startup-world's creativity and agility, and taking lessons on how to make the elephant dance. For more information and next year's applications, I am referring you to SLP's website. http://www.startupleadership.com

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