The US-based Startup Leadership Program has opened its first Australian chapter in Melbourne, led by start-up expert Grant Downie, with applications now open for the class of 2013.
The Startup Leadership Program (SLP) is a six-month development program for start-up founders and chief executives who want to grow their early stage ventures into viable businesses.
Founded in the United States by Anupendra Sharma, the first SLP was staged in Boston in 2006. It has since spread throughout the US in addition to India, Europe, and most recently, Australia.
This year, the SLP will be offered in 22 cities around the world and Melbourne is the only chapter in the Southern Hemisphere. Applications are already open for the class of 2013.
Applications close on Friday, August 10. The program kicks off in October, with weekly classes and several all-day workshops on weekends. Classes will be held at the York Butter Factory.
Leading the Melbourne chapter is Grant Downie, principal of boutique advisory practice Dynamic Strategies. Downie was also involved in the Launch48 Sydney Weekend.
The aim of Launch48 is to bring together professionals within the web industry to develop and launch online businesses over the course of one weekend.
“I started looking into what the [SLP] was a little bit earlier in the year. I decided it fit really well with the Launch48 stuff… This is a great extension of that,” Downie says.
After getting in contact with the organisers in the US, Downie convinced them to establish an SLP chapter in Melbourne.
“The ideal candidate is a founder or a chief executive of an early stage venture… from [industries including] agriculture, biotech as well as info tech. It’s really not industry-specific,” he says.
“It’s for early stage ventures who are really trying to make their start-up sustainable. The start-ups should have been going for maybe 12 to 24 months [already].”
Downie stresses the program is directed at the leaders of start-ups, as opposed to the start-ups themselves, insisting there are no other local programs similar to the SLP.
“The focus of the program is really to help leaders,” he says.
“They’re all facing similar challenges, whatever industry they’re in. We’re only taking 20 to 25 [participants] to make sure they get good access to mentors,” he says.
“The two key challenges [for an early stage venture] are really understanding who your customer is,” he says.
“[Secondly,] the person who starts the business is often a technical specialist or has a narrow passion or skill.”
“The real challenge for businesses to become viable and sustainable is being able to extend beyond the founder’s capabilities.”
“[The founder must] establish a capable team and start delegating, and start running it like it’s a business rather than like a garage project.”