First a little bit of background, Through 2014 - I was looking for possible ways to get off the ground. An ideal combination of people and ideas. It was this search that led me to apply to the Startup Leadership Program. After my participation in the program was approved, I attended almost every session between September to March.

Why did I consider SLP? Around August last year, I had a friendly word with SLP fellows, Vinay Nathan and Sagar Apte. They both shared their SLP experience with me. Sagar mentioned that if you come in with an idea, participating in SLP sessions over 6 months is a disciplined way of planning out a venture thoroughly. This plus the slim chance of meeting a potential business partner with like-minded ideas encouraged me to finish and submit my application.

My entire experience can be had from the point of view of three unique benefits.

Simply never giving up. In hindsight, Sagar was right. Attending the SLP program does add focus. Every Saturday SLP session is focused on one important aspect of doing a Startup. Design, Business Plans, Finance - they try to touch upon everything in short bursts. Common wisdom goes that a Startup is like a series circuit. If you get all the resistors right, the bulb lights up. If you get even one wrong, the bulb simply won't light up.

Attending different sessions every other Saturday is a great opportunity to reboot, review your venture through different perspectives one at a time. After every session I was filled with new ideas to go forward with.

Learning that there isn't just one answer to difficult problems. As you can imagine, not everyone succeeds in their startup journey. Our batch had founders from diverse backgrounds. Some were aggressive in their approach to execution, others relied more on their charisma, intellect and patience. Having spent six months with them helped me open up to new possibilities. 

This helped in unexpected ways. For instance, the ground reality with venture funding is that most founders won't get funds. And yet, every founder believes that his startup will get funded eventually. The potential downside to this is that founders subtly pursue a "make and get funded, or die" strategy.

In the SLP class were founders who had discovered and built upon new revenue streams for their business. They were on their way to make a strong finish and not simply try to grab newspaper headlines. Spending time and getting to know them through countless discussions was motivating in helping me find my own unique solution to my problem.

It's a team effort. It has been almost a year now since I put in my application. I don't regret it as the quality of fellowship at SLP is hard to match. Our local startup eco-system has grown in recent times and so has the noise. I never imagined that this network of entrepreneurs (punestartups.org), started back in 2008 would grow organically to 16,000+ registrations over 7 years. But with crowds comes a sense of detachment.

Having finished SLP together, I now also have a trusted group that I rely on for perspective and advice. We exchange contacts, recommendations and market information that would otherwise not be so easily shared. We also make time to get together over breakfast, poker nights and some times both in the reverse order, whenever possible.

Its hard to be a volunteer and help with community service when your primary venture is really the one that demands your time, energy and attention. Having attended SLP, I was on the receiving end of the good that comes from community service. This is certainly not to paint a perfect but false picture. Rather, my post is to help highlight the good that SLP Program Team has been doing to take the eco-system forward year after year.

To summarize, as an accepted candidate to SLP I reconnected with mentors through classroom sessions, met new peers and found endless fellowship. In all the biggest benefit from the program was the motivation to quickly find a way to end 'search' mode. To instead focus on delivering results based on what is possible and compatible with the direction that I wanted to go in.  

tl;dr: I attended the SLP program 2015 and I enjoyed my experience and uncovered unexpected benefits. I recommend the program to other Pune-based entrepreneurs who are starting out.

- Santosh Dawara, CEO, deAzzle: "The best way to take your local business mobile."

I am a SLP fellow 2015 and volunteer with both SLP and punestartups.org.

to apply for SLP-2016 go here >> http://www.f6s.com/slp-pune2016#programs/ajax-application.

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Thanks Santosh for nice post.

Is the SLP for start up founders or it also offers job opportunity to students who want to work in product companies?

Nice article Santosh. I have heard great things about SLP from others too. Your article acts as a catalyst to the entrepreneurs looking for direction.

Hi Im a serial social entrepreneur based out of Chicago, my current project is Worlds 1st Gender Equal Business Startup Competition for Children Schoolpreneur.Biz Currently Im in Pune my India cell is 955-286-3469 and my whatsapp is 001-773709-9154 regards Tausif

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