From dissent to doubling down: Co-Founder conflict is the best session yet

Team building and co-founder conflict. These were the topics for our last session. They looked simple and straight-foward to us. However, the CEOs and the PLs thought otherwise, they believed these topics can be dealt only in an unusual setup, out in the wild. So, even before the start of the previous session, the CEOs and the PLs started seeking our opinion about a 1.5 day program, including camping out as a group. After much deliberation and scheduling conflicts, it was decided that we would do the session outdoors. Unfortunately, this meant some people would miss out, because of personal and professional constraints.

Well, I bet no one would have realized how much fun and engaging the outdoor experience would have been. I, for one, wish every session is held outdoors, but then again, I know I can’t ask for unicorns.

The day session began at the usual location with a couple of talks, about team building and conflict-resolution. After the lectures, we carpooled to the outdoor location, the simple, serene Divya Retreat Resort in Keesargutta, about 30KM outside of Hyderabad.

Once everyone reached the location and settled in, we were introduced to the CEOs for the outdoor program, Diyanat Ali and Nishant, both of whom run India’s fastest growing community, the Greater Hyderabad Adventure Club. Diyanat, with his experience in handling in corporate outings through his startup, Outlife, designed the agenda for the program and would conduct it, with support from the usual suspects, our PLs and session CEOs as well as SLPeers and friends, Karl and Varma.

The first part of the program was about team building. It started with an interesting question: 4 sessions into the program, “how well do we know our SLPeers?” It appeared, perhaps from our chemistry, that Diyanat already knew the answer: not very much. So started the first exercise. In about 5 minutes, each of us wrote things we personally connected with, cared about and wanted to achieve on a piece of paper. We then use craftsmanship to turn those papers into planes and flew them all into the open grounds at the same time. In no time, we lost track of our planes and started flying others’. After about a minute, each one of us had the personal story of another SLPeer in our hand. All of us then settle down into a circle and started a game where each of us tried to identify the person depending on what the contents of the plane in our hand read. It was one of the most fun ways of learning about others. It was nostalgic too; reminding us of clipboards, exams, complaining of non-working pens, trying to copy from others and turning papers into planes!

The peer-learning was followed by quick activity that tested (and eventually improved) our ability to sync our minds and bodies as a team to perform seemingly-easy PT (Physical Training) instructions. As much fun as it was, it would fade out in comparison to what lay ahead.

It was an hour of pure fun and understanding our peers. Yet, it was only the beginning, of both learning and fun.

After the PT session, we divided ourselves, randomly, into two teams, Idly and Dosa. Each team formed a circle and made a spaghetti by holding each others’ hands in the most random way possible. We were then asked to untangle the spaghetti, without ever unfolding hands. Of course, Idlies and Dosas were competing with each other to see who could untangle first. Dosas won by a big margin and their victory streak was only beginning (I guess you figured out by now which team yours truly belonged in :-) ).

Anyway, as the Idlies proceeded to untangle their spaghetti, some dosas took to sledging them, while other took off to enjoy some fruit and play Frisbee (at least, until yours truly fired it into the adjacent lake). In no time, Idlies finished their game and joined the rest of us in conversations, games and snacks. The nice, green open grounds and the calm, pleasant and pollution free atmosphere was just perfect to indulge in a break from our typically hectic entrepreneurial lives. We made the most of it at the slightest opportunity. 

After a brief break, Idlies and Dosas organized back into team and formed circles as human chains for another game. Each team was then given a hula hoop. The idea was to start the hoop at one joint in the chain and move it across all the joints until it back to where it started; all of this, without breaking the chain at any time. It took a lot of jumping-through-the-hoops and cheering from other teammates to get it done. Of course, between Idlies and Dosas, it was again a competition of who would finish sooner. This time, the Idlies beat the Dosas by a healthy 25 second margin, flaring up a rivalry. Not the ones to be bogged down, Dosas called for another challenge, and this time, they beat the Idlies by finishing it in less than half of Idlies’ time. It wasn’t a straight shot, though. We (Dosas) discussed and arrived at a strategy that would help us move the hoop faster and it surely did wonders.

Next up was a, literally, heavy task. So, Diyanat and gang prepped us, mentally, for it. Dosas and Idlies were asked to designate a member from their teams as their captains. Dosas picked Sai Krishna and Idlies picked Venkat as their captains. The teams were now to come up with a name and war cry for themselves. Dosas renamed themselves “Delivering Dare Devil Dosas” with the war cry “More Cheese!”, while Idlies renamed themselves “Trojans”, with the war cry “Fry the Dosas”. We then announced our names and acted out our war cries for the other teams, pumping ourselves up before the heavy duty game.

The teams were each given an area of 9 tiles (of 1×1 feet) each. The objective of the game was to squeeze ourselves into lesser and lesser number of tiles over 30 second laps. The team that squeezed itself into the least number of tiles wins. Both teams set had the same strategy of big guys lifting the smaller ones onto their shoulders and the rest would balance themselves on single foot. Being lighter, I was on a stronger teammate’s shoulders, while another lighter member clicked away selfies to capture the moments. Eventually, Dosas squeezed into 3 tiles and Trojans into 4. The next game was ever-more-slightly less intense, but required different strategy than before. Each team could have 3 people, each with one foot outside the tiles. This time, each team employed a slightly different strategy. Dosas ended up on 2 tiles, while Trojans finished on 3.

With that, the games concluded for the day and we wrapped by congratulating and thanking the strong ones for hoisting us “lighter” ones up in the air and bringing us down safely.

While we only saw the fun in the games that Diyanat designed for us, there were a lot of undertones to it. Starting with the peer-learning session, each subsequent session build on top of the previous one to help us connect with ourselves and with each other in much better and fun-tastic ways. Each session was an exercise in discussing, motivating, tolerating, respecting and, most of all, trusting each other and working as a team that worried about fierce competition and had fun in the process. More than anything else, it’s a reflection of our own (in some cases, potential) entrepreneurial journeys.

After all the games, we settled down into one big circle to reflect on the day and what we take away to improve our own teams, cultures and strategies.

At the end of the tiring day, we went in for an indoor exercise that helped us understand our own leadership styles, based on KOLB’s Learning Style Inventory.

We then went off to check in to our camping tents and reassemble in some time around a campfire for a bar camp and BBQ. Sai Krishna Popuri took the opportunity to learn from the peers how he could improve his sales figures. After intense debates, it boiled to a couple of strategies, including hiring an expert marketer in the food industry and exploring new sales points, including educational institutes, IT parks, hospitals, etc. Here’s wishing him the best of luck!

Even as the bar camp was in progress, some of the peers jumped in to kickstart the BBQ. While the non-vegetarians had tasty chicken at hand, the vegetarians weren’t as lucky (but then, who could blame the organizers for not having veg options for a private BBQ :-) ). Anyway, this kindled the entrepreneurial spirit in Manoj Surya, who set out to making something out of pineapples, bananas and potatoes. After a lot of deliberation, he named his veg BBQ stall “Bandi lo BBQ”, a brand he (tentatively) plans on bringing to life some day.

After the BBQ, some of the peers retired from the session and went back home to attend their personal and professional responsibilities. The rest of us got dinner and headed for a late evening walk into the wilderness around the resort. The hour long trek squeezed out the last bits of our energy and we finally headed to the tents to retire for the day. Little did we know that we were in for a treat by Anurag, one of the peers. As people started arriving at the tents, Anurag assumed the role of an old housewife and started a conversation with her neighbor, played by another peer, Sindura. The next hour would be a laugh riot that saw Anurag exploit his acting, dialogue delivery skills and his accent to entertain the rest of us to the hilt. The play stretched for about half an hour followed by recap of the highlights.

The conversation extended into sharing of personal stories, which brought the team closer than ever. Eventually, barring a few who chose to start another campfire and enjoy the rest of the night, we retired for the night around 2 AM.

The CEOs were brutal about waking us up at 6 AM to keep us on schedule. The beautiful morning mist and the lush open ground awakened the frisbee players in us and we started playing as some other enjoyed their morning coffee and tried out their exceptional photography skills to capture the rising sun.

The morning coffee was followed by a quick warm up and then we headed for rappelling. The resort offered a 40 ft rock that was too intimidating for some and too small for others. Nevertheless, after a quick demo by the organizing staff, led by Shariff, our PL, Subbu, kicked it off by being the first one to rappel down the rock. Praveen Kaliga led the photography (helped by others) and Anurag led the commentary. For many of us it was our first rappelling experience and the organizing team helped us overcome our anxieties and fears. That said, I guess the entrepreneurial spirit turned the anxiety and fear into a thrill. We missed Sai Krishna, though, as he was down with a cold from last night’s fun.

As we wrapped up rappelling, the hungry hearts munched on the breakfast and set out for another class, this time on co-founder conflicts and general conflict resolution among team members. Unsurprisingly, this indoor session was about getting back to pen and paper exercises – The Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory to be specific. The idea of the exercise was to evaluate our own behavior in dealing with certain scenarios we may across in our businesses and how that behavior translates into relationships with our co-founders and other team mates. 

And that was pretty much the last session for the day, by the end of which, almost everyone of us was tired to stay on for lunch. So, ruminating on the memories of the last 24 hours, we trudged back to our tents, packed up our bags and headed back to the concrete jungle.

The session that started with date conflicts and some people’s reluctance ended on a super triumphant note and will remain as the most engaging, energizing and physically tiring session of SLP 2015-16.

Lean, Mean, Startup Machines

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Be More Convincing!

That was the mantra of the day as we all began the Session #1 of the Startup Leadership Program. The CEO for this session was Narendra Peesapati, and the Co-CEOs were Manoj Surya and Praveen Dorna. This organizing team certainly set the bar quite high, with reading material and videos shared with the rest of the SLPians a week in advance, and a diverse panel of speakers lined up to impart their wisdom. The focus was on idea validation using the Business Model Canvas (BMC). Amit Bharadwaj of 6Degree spoke in detail about the BMC, and Subba Raju of Real Shoppee and Rahul Sachdev of WichPlease provided support. The entire class was divided into teams and selected one startup idea to validate. The BMC is really an exhaustive and exhausting process, and a few hours really did it no justice. We did, however, receive very relevant feedback and new ways of seeing our own ideas from the experts and our peers, and it was a valuable introduction to this method. Sri Peddu of Power House Ventures talked to the class about the Lean Startup Methodology, and Srinivas Akki of The EggHead Creative introduced the Javelin board. Nayan of Violet Street also provided inputs on lean startups.

 

1.-Slowpoke

 

The Javelin Throw

8.-Philosoraptor       3.-Y-U-No

 

An activity that had most of us getting out of the building, hitting the streets and going up to random strangers (our potential “users”) asking them to validate our startup ideas. Using the Javelin experiment board, we made assumptions about problems faced by our target customers, and solutions we could provide. Some people’s assumptions were flipped on their heads, while others had to tweak or pivot their ways, and a lucky few were able to validate their ideas.

       

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A Feast Fit for CEOs

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CEOs need to stay fit. Sai Krishna “Popstar” Popuri’s Jowar Pops from Health Sutra/ Fountainhead Foods provided us with nourishment in the midst of all the BMC brouhaha. Sindura Borra’s detoxifying concoctions from Cleanse High had us all raising our bottles for a toast, though it was a dry day! Sai Krishna aims to return to a time of simpler and healthier eating by introducing jowar and other healthy foods in easily accessible forms that are as tasty as, if not tastier than, popcorn and other snacks. It’s easy to see how these new snacks are going to be ‘pop’ular soon! Sindura’s detox drinks in their classy bottles are a first in the Indian market: made of a mix of fruits and vegetables, these juices are as delicious and filling as they are healthy. The crunching of pops and clicking on bottles filled with pink, green and yellow juice had us convinced that entrepreneurs really are a strange breed and we always do things differently! We were definitely high on the promise of entrepreneurship!

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A Zenty-Mental Day

 

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A group of business nerds just couldn’t get enough, and as a result of the SLP high, got together at Takbir Fatima’s DesignAware HQ to take apart any brave volunteer’s ideas. The scapegoat/ tester was Manoj Surya, and his startup, Zenty. Zenty is a platform which connects communities with sponsors for their events. An easy way to remember this is payment for engagement. You share a tweet, play a game or solve a quiz to raise awareness or endorse the sponsoring band, and each action earns you bucks that go toward the budget for your event! It’s an interactive way for brands to sponsor events as opposed to the plain old banners or print ads. And an effective way for small communities to get sponsorship from big companies. Manoj was our candidate for the Business Model Canvas, and he was grilled for the entire day! The enthusiasm in the room was contagious, to say the least. Everyone had something of value to add about Manoj’s business model, and many radical views were shared. It was a day well spent, and the session proved that Manoj was certainly a BMC: Brave Macho CEO!

 

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Enter the Emperors

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The Promise of Entrepreneurship

Who hasn’t, on a particularly taxing Friday evening, stuck in their cubicle working late, drowning in mountains of paperwork, dreamed of being their own boss? Of loosening that necktie or kicking off those heels, and starting a food truck or a garage studio or an online business? Of working from home in your pajamas, playing your favorite sitcom in the background, while cuddling your dog? Of being able to take off whenever you feel like, drop off the radar and end up at an abandoned beach shack in the Maldives?

 

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That’s what starting out on your own is supposed to be like, right? Wrong. If it were just that dreamy, everyone would be doing it. But there’s a flip side to it. It takes more than an inclination toward comfort, flexibility and adventure to become an entrepreneur. It takes creativity, not just to come up with the initial idea, but to tweak and improve and refine it many times throughout the journey. It takes an iron belly not to hurl before every meeting with people who are thrice your age and who throw away many times your income. It takes endless optimism to keep going when you have no idea where your next pay-check is coming from. It takes business acumen, communication and presentation skills, a knack for taking calculated risks, immense foresight, and an ability to negotiate in seemingly impossible situations. It takes never-ending reserves of energy, to keep working even after all your employees have left. It takes guts to leave that cushy job, get off your butt, and start from scratch. The difference between those who dream and those who do, is that those who do, dream big. They don’t dream of a small corner store, they dream of a chain of the best stores all over the country. There is no limit to the dreams of doers.

 

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Age of Empires

Luckily, (almost) gone are the days when people would ask you what you do and not understand or accept your answer. When Aunties would ask, “I thought you were a doctor, why are you doing business?” or spouses would say, “She just doesn’t like being idle, so this business is a good use of her time and skills,” or when a friend would ask, “Don’t you feel weird that after a Master’s degree, you’re just selling food?” Today, (almost) everyone knows what an entrepreneur is. Everyone knows you could be the next “Tata-Birla.” Everyone’s envious of the romance of entrepreneurship, enjoyed by those who are brave enough and capable enough of throwing caution to the wind and taking the road less travelled. Startups, the problem child of yesterday, are the child prodigy of today.

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We are in the Age of Entrepreneurial Empires. And building an empire takes work. It takes courage, vision and unflickering optimism. The journey is tiresome, harsh and unpredictable, and, many times, lonely. Enter the Startup Leadership Program. A course designed to erase the uncertainties of entrepreneurs by connecting them to a worldwide, lifelong network of peers from a range of backgrounds, industries and levels of experience.

 

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Entrepreneurs 101

The journey of SLP 2016 Hyderabad began on 19 September, 2015, at the generous offices of Purple Talk, which was started by alumni of the SLP. It was the first time we met each other: the 25 carefully-chosen entrepreneurs, hand-picked from over 300 applicants. We had been accepted to the exclusive and highly-selective Startup Leadership Program because of who we were, not what we were. We were women and men from all walks of life, some still in college, some college drop-outs, some seasoned serial entrepreneurs, and some who had taken a diversion into the startup world mid-career. We were all so different, and yet we shared a common trait: a belief in our life’s calling, and an unwavering dedication toward the dream of running our own businesses, to innovate, fill a void or serve a need. Everyone was well turned-out in formal business wear, looking like CEOs and Directors should, and the highlight of the session was the introductions. Everyone had a story to tell, and each was unique in its own way. But the unmistakable glint of fiery passion coupled with steely resolve to win could be seen in every individual’s eyes. It was a day of witticisms and criticism and sarcasm, and by the end of the day, the stiff collars of blazers were softened into a shared comfort of familiarity. It was a day of recognizing that we were all bound by a common link which would only grow stronger in this half-year-long journey. We belonged. We were home.

 

SLP Hyderabad

 

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I–

I took the one less travelled by.

And that has made all the difference.”

-The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

 

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For number crunchers, here’s a breakdown of stats of the SLP Class of 2015, in terms of their education:

 

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And the types of startups:

 

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And some more info about the participants, just for fun:

 

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Fourth Session – Financial Model and Product Day

Day 4 : 18th October 2014

Session: Financial Model and Product Day (Design Thinking, Product Design and Product Development)

Session CEO: Eshwar
Co-CEO: Harsha Unnam & Jayasri

A world within a world, a world that runs the world – a world of Finance. This is not what you run in a startup but this is what runs your startup. So, how do you go about modeling your finances in the most judicious way while you strike the balance of designing and developing the right product?
This was, in brief  – the agenda of the day. Eshwar, Harsha and Jayasri were early and had already started to set the stage.

The aromatic coffee in Purpletalk office is like no other. The tea there is the best. Ask for Green Tea, and along with the ambience of apple PCs all around, it has the potential to wake up your inner soul if need be.

Another extraordinary squash-buckling, action packed, insightful day awaited us SLPians. And everyone brought with them their laptops to number their financial models as per the CEOs instructions and most importantly all of us had a pack of smiles and aura of energy flaunting on our faces.

The session started, again, right on time!

What is Financial modelling? Its a process of building a structure that will aid you in making business decisions regarding your startup.

The goal was to forecast, measure, monitor, track and organize all the inflow versus the outflow. pic 8

This is how Eshwar set the stage.

As the sessions went on post lunch came Vijay Bhaskar (COO, Divami software) and Srinivas Chinta (CDO Divami Software) along with our own SLP 2015 batchmate Karthi Subbaraman (CDO, OGHMA) hit the sweet spot in how one can master their UX and UI of their product design. Let it be anything, from brochures to landing pages, to App, content etc., who you are and what you do is conceived by what you show to your customers in this world of internet. How can you make sure your customer gets the best image of your startup was this session all about.

What is UX strategy?
Ponder on this a bit – Customer has infinite options on what he wants to buy. Competition is anywhere and everywhere. Resources are limited while customers and stake holders are demanding. Huge opportunity equates huge risks at the same time.  Why many undermine UX part of the product and only focus on features?

This action packed session was about this. Every one of us did not blink an eye, we were focused like a parasite into what Srinivas from Devami had to share. Being different is not as same as being smart. How can you be both? Your Value is P+S+E where P is Product, S is solution and E is Experience

Srini along with Vijay helped us with a DIY Value Delivery model where one can create a great user experience. Create P+S+E, Communicate and Deliver.

Design is thus a way of thinking that is made visible.

Thus the day, dawned on us and we reclined to our introspecting minds to see design as an objective where science, research and art break even.

Third Session – Customer and Market

Day 3: 4th October

Session: Customer Development, Market Research, Competitive Analysis, Pricing, Adoption

Session CEO: Kiran
Co-CEO: Pavan Thota and Ana Gonzalez

“Make a customer, not a Sale”  and that said how do you make that customer?

Starting up is not easy, its not impossible but, starting up is a continuous process, perhaps that will never end. There can be a new startup within a startup, it could be a new marketing team or a new customer focus team or even a new CEO. Once you startup, you are always starting up something new every now and then.
As an Entrepreneur, an idea and passion, or the right mindset, money, skill and attitude are not enough to starting up. It is not enough in a competitive world, in a growing market and to sustain your own growth.

How do you startup, how can one identify the target customer segment, analyze competition, Collaborate while you use the external factors to your advantage? How will you build your product with what features and why now? – these are some very tough questions which linger in every one who has or wants to startup.

Coming to our rescue -  was SLP with an important session on Day 3.

Kiran, Pavan and Ana with the help of SLP Alumnis Subhash and Niranjan had laid out an action packed agenda. It included a work-shop, eye-opening presentations and a very interesting session of Guest speakers. Sitakanta Ray who is the Co-founder of mysmartprice.com and Raj Janagam Co-founder UnLtd Hyderabad were chosen to fill our minds with spirited insights.

Kiran first set the agenda

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Ana took over the second session.

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Teams were divided into groups. And the groups had a task assigned from which emerged the clarity. It is this clarity afterall that decides the success and failure of everything that anyone wants to do anywhere in the world

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Some key takeaways from the session apart from all that we learnt, realized and grasped out of those brilliant and priceless sessions, here are a few top of mind bits

  • Know where you tread on. Acquaint yourselves with all your strengths and weaknesses.
  • If you do a good job of identifying customer needs, price it right, market and promote them effectively – that product becomes valuable and thus will sell it right.
  • Simple rule – always give people more than what they expect to get
  • A customer need not be the one who uses your end product. Everyone in your organization is a key stake holder.

The CEOs and C0CEOs monitored the work shops closely and added their bit of advise. The sessions were combined with presentation, roleplay, workshop, video and expert talk. And at the end of the day it was as though a mirror was shown to all the startups in Hyd SLP. While all were intrigued, Kiran had this tired look:

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While all of us had a blast at the end of another perfect day. We realized we all have grown as a team, as a family, as a SLP family. Here is us, smiling and saying to all the readers that we had a wonderful session to which we are extremely grateful.

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Photo Courtesy – Subhash & Ana

 

SLP Hyderabad Chapter Infographics

Hyderabad SLP Chapter is diverse in every attribute. We have put together a infographic that briefly details the flavors and colors of every entrepreneur and how they bring in a lot of value into this ecosystem

 

Distribution by Industry

Distribution by Industry

 

We went on to classify them into Product companies, Service companies and others

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This batch has many Engineers, most of them are from IITs. infographic4

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There is women power too as the carefully chosen team consists of women who are into travel, photography, fashion, social entrepreneurship and more

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Last but not the least this batch has a total of 2 Patent owners, and some of them have won the following awards

Gold Medal” through The National Integrity Cultural Academy and State Level Human Rights Vigilance organization for outstanding contribution to the
Community for the Year 2009. It was rated one of the top NGOs out of 1600+ NGOs in Tamil Nadu.

Microsoft Bizspark 2013 top 10 runner up Award

Microsoft Code for Honor 2014 finalist Award

Top 8% startups by NASSCOM

e-SAP – awarded best agriculture initiative by ASSOCHAM (http://www.assocham.org/events/showevent.php?id=964)

ITsAP Award 2013 – “Best Software Product” – Student Innovation

With great diversity comes a great family. Great families create great value. May all the entrepreneurs realize their dreams and make this world a better place.

 

Second Session – Lean Startup

Day 2: September 20th 2014

SECOND SESSION – Lean Startup
CEO: Jayasri
Co CEO: Rahul and Mohan

Second session of SLP started sharp at 9:45 AM with the projector showing an exciting agenda of the day. The aromatic coffee had become a new friend and the Cube-Labs office seemed soothing, the initial meets and greets had hushed down but had left a trail of smile on everybody’s face. Atmosphere was perfectly set for a wholesome day and everything seemed holistic, intriguing, and all of us were eager to learn.

The first session after the intro was a panel discussion on Ideas and Visions. Vijay Gummadi, Co-Founder of Carz and Kiran Gedela Co-Founder of Oasis center for reproductive medicine made a unsurpassed fit to deliver a high-value session on which we would all marinate on before going through the rest of the sessions. Discussion on business model, customer ownership, creating value, valuing customers, pricing right, building the right product, identifying the problem, deciding what one wants to do etc., were very influential and thought provoking.

Both Vijay and Kiran shared their inspiring stories. Vijay detailed his daring story on how he quit the comfort of a high paying job, returned from the US, and how he started Carz. The part where he narrated how an acquaintance of his at an event-party gathering reacted when he was asked “what are you going to do now that you have returned to India?” question he replied “I am going to start a car garage” was mirthful and funny. Yet he went against all the odds to build what’s today known to all of us;  a familiar brand known for its quality that is outdoing some of the big names in the market.

Kiran too had a familiar story. A London graduate, techie, returning to India and wanting to start something in medicine, the whole thing sounded odd. Ingenuity need not spark elsewhere, its inherent in many and the first signs of it is when he or she breaks the rules or goes against the traditional known good path but ventures into the unknown, takes that risk, faces all the finger points and comes out a winner unfathomed. Such was the story, so warmly and passionately told by Kiran. One out of 5 couples suffer from infertility and Kiran was deeply moved by this problem and set out the venturesome journey of starting up. Today he has impacted and successfully resolved numerous such issues and made many couples happy. The gift of life and happiness he provided to those less destined is priceless.

It was a demonstrative and thought provoking session. It seemed as though adrenaline was underpowered by the spirits of entrepreneurship that had sky rocketed our faith beyond space into the galaxy of motivation. Nothing seemed impossible. Our faith in ourselves was restored, doubled and nuclear powered to infinity. The feeling is unexplainable, ecstatic and elated. The time when everyone exchanged their questions with Vijay and Kiran they got subtle yet meaningful answers, there was no remorse, no regrets, but pure belief and passion to what everyone of us were here to do. This feeling was beyond magic, beyond wiz, sorcery or alchemy, it was beyond what words had the capability to explain.

As we returned from the awesome sandwich session, Harsha was all set with the LEAN exercise, how to use it with an example and an activity to startup. The class was divided into teams and a team leader was appointed to fill up BMC chart.

As we winded up the yummy food arranged by Chakri during the Lunch break, Diya took us through the Javelin board theory. Diya had built GHAC to the peaks of success and fame. He had a lesson to teach us all. To everyone’s surprise, the Javelin board theory was also followed by a practical experience. “get out of the building” it was called where the divided groups actually associated themselves with a startup and filled the javelin board by interviewing real customers in malls and strategic outdoor locations, all in few minutes of time allotted before it was presented with the relevance of their idea, assumptions and validations.

In no time, the day had come to an end, none realized how time flew by so swiftly and gracefully. The sessions were like living one of the most loved moments of your life. Consciously we had all reflected upon our own ideas and startups while subconsciously we learnt the most quintessential curricula of starting up and being an entrepreneur. Such high value and moving sessions can only be found at SLP. These are not just days of learning; they are precious days of transformation and realization.

Going to bed that day had a heart that was contempt with everything in the world. Great job done by the CEO and Co CEOs. Power of faith is very important to an entrepreneur. To believe in what he wants versus whats right thing to do. The day taught us how to validate that. Most importantly it instilled the faith in us. When you feel the power of faith in you, peace becomes your slave, people become your penny and problems just remained a particle in space we wished ourselves goodnight on whatsapp and winded up an eventful day to wake up a new and improved person the next day.

Grand Start at Hyd-SLP 2015 batch

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The wait was over and first session for SLP Hyderabad had dawned on September 6th 2014. Even the Sun seemed to have sported a sparkle as he slowly moved through the clouds on that day. It seemed as though all of fate and destiny had worked together with the rest of the universe and set the big stage for a memorable, exciting start at SLP Hyderabad.

30 of City’s best of Entrepreneurs were judiciously handpicked based on many aspects of passion, idea, endurance and most importantly on the cause and dream to solve a problem, serve a cause and how extensively each of them are committed and dedicated to their dream. A lot of hard-work that the Alumni had invested in this selection process, and the result had brought together a team of scintillating, enthusiastic and lively entrepreneurs of mix age and gender from all sectors of the Industry. Best of creative minds, innovators, problem solvers, dreamers, thinkers and magicians had thus come together at one place, in one program, for one Passion – to make this world a better place.

The first hour on the curriculum had to be the ice-breaker. How else can one know each other, know their journey, share their story, skills, ups and downs, highs and lows etc., Just as the tradition goes at SLP, all the participants were asked to prepare a short 3 minutes presentation that details their story in a witty way and is the opposite of a formal customer slide deck. Who knew that this would be unlike Hogwarts, unlike any business presentation but better than and beyond anybody’s imagination?
It turned out that the session was not just any ice-breaker, but the most special one that would change the course of one’s life.
As everyone started with their story the whole class resonated with laughter and illuminated with emotions of glory and loss. Every one untwined the threads of their life’s story, sinusoidal crest and highs were split wide open and even though the mistakes made were hilarious they deeply highlighted the lessons learnt. If at all there was a large mountain of ice nearby, this would have certainly shattered it and melted into an ocean, isn’t that truly an ice breaker? What a beautiful session that was, not one noticed how time passed by.

There were very witty stories, where one shared the complacence they gained from their failures and success with the team in an introspective way, while the other humorously presented the strength and weakness using something as vague yet scientific as astrology, a few stories showed how  mother-in-laws can animorph into monster-in-laws, how lonely one felt without a girlfriend in college, and how hilarious it was to have broken the rules, gone against the odds etc., Every story had an exciting start and an end. The 6 slides that all entrepreneurs had to present, included the journey, what they do, why they want to do what they do and how can they impact the world by their doing. But what those slides uniquely emitted, were important lessons of life, true stories that had a realm of self-realization. How they did small things in a great way which they did not have to do great things at all. How success is not about what you have but who you are. How one has to risk to triumph, and how you have to spend your life your own way.

Some stories of hunger, struggle, fight and glory made a few eyes wet, as they instantly cleared off with every slide embarked a witty and a happy ending but a new beginning. The most valuable thing out of all that we do are mistakes which nobody can learn by being perfect.

Everyone in the room slowly realized a sense of power to create something disruptive, to become something amazing and to do something impossible. The excitement was so much that it can only be felt because words would fall long short of a magical day.

Pizzas during lunch added to the celebration, and the smiles exchanged after knowing each other could equate to a dessert.

Just like Oprah Winfrey said “Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don’t put a ceiling on yourself” Every one of the SLP team members had one faith, requited – “What I believe can be achieved and my faith in what I believe is restored”

As Entrepreneurs one often faces more struggle than glory, more put downs than praise, more pain than pleasure, more effort than results. How would it be, at the end of the day, all that changed and a sense of confidence, futuristic excitement, strength, gratitude and energy prevailed? That’s how the day ended as we continued the celebration into a splendid Welcome Party.

A day that is going to be remembered, cherished and treasured is also inevitably by the force of nature as we see it, is a history in the making. Everyone will stay inquisitive of the days to come and the people they are going to become.