Chicago Startup Leadership Program
SLP Chicago supports first time entrepreneurs as they traverse their entrepreneurial journey and increases their probability of success through education and community.
SLP offers a six month, selective educational experience that helps early stage entrepreneurs learn the skills necessary to be a successful startup CEO. Held at 1871 in Chicago, class speakers have included Square Planetâ€™s Brian Burkhardt, Todd Wyder, Armando Pauker from Apex Ventures, AKTA, Booth School of Business Professors Craig Wortman and Mike Moyer, virality expert Emerson Spartz, two time YC alum Savraj Dhanjal, guests from our sponsors and many local angel investors, including members of Hyde Park Angels.
Chicago SLP graduates include JiveHealth, TwoTara, Dermbids, Snapclass, Roommations, Cleveland Whiskey, PreScouter, GeoPollster, Found in Town, Motozuma, Furnishly, Gourmet Gorilla, FasPark and Human Practice.
In just two short years, the graduate companies have:
-Been accepted into the VW Accelerator
-Won Partnership for a Healthier Americaâ€™s Obesity Challenge
-2013 Northwestern Venture Competition Winner
-Secured a national retail contract
-Doubled their business
-Moxie Award Finalist
-Topped $5M in revenue
SLP is a non-profit, never takes equity from participating companies, and has a one-time cost of $450 to cover food during the program.
Please see "additional notes" next as it may help explain some of my answers to the following questions.
What new functionality we are looking for
I'm a big fan of the website: http://www.tigerlabs.co/. My thinking is heavily influence by what they've done. The big highlights include:
*Telling the story: through great use of pictures, icons and words they've effectively told their story. Ahead of the workshop I would work with some copy/branding folks available to us to really help hone the language around SLP Chicago. That would include creating a website theme - something like (but probably not this) "creating the billion dollar entrepreneurs of tomorrow"
*Highlighting mentors & companies: because we rely very heavily on the generosity of individuals and companies, being able to recognize them on the website is a huge motivator. We've currently got a start, but it needs some significant design help. There's nothing like going to a website and seeing one's own picture.
*Conveying legitimacy: I've mentioned this in other parts of the application. Having a local website that truly reflects what Chicago SLP is about will help with recruiting, our most important part of the program. Not only recruiting from a candidate fellow perspective, but also in attracting new sponsors, advisers and mentors. A new website is the #1 priority for us in the coming year.
*Collecting interest: Because our program runs once a year, we need to keep momentum up and maintain some presence in the news. We've adhoc put out newsletters and other communications, but only via people that our in our personal networks. I would like to see functionality that collects email addresses for two purposes: 1) "Let me know when applications open" and 2) SLP Chicago Newsletter
*Applications: SLP globally uses the F6S (http://www.f6s.com/) platform to collect applications. There is no need to integrate - although we could try. Linking would be sufficient.
Because I've already been thinking about this extensively, I've already started putting together wireframes, branding documents and assets. In a former life, I used to project manage website development - and am very familiar with the creative process and what will be required. If selected, I think you'll find that I'll probably be one of the more organized individuals coming into the competition .. and very open to whatever ideas or brainstorms come out of it.
How the new functionality will help
The Startup Leadership Program, in general, suffers from a lack of awareness. Given that there are 20 chapters across the world, with 700 Companies and $370M in raised capital .. you would think people would have heard of it. But the focus and resources have always been on helping companies and not on marketing.
Hence, we know that we miss helping many worthy entrepreneurs who simply don't know about the program.
Currently, Chicago directs people to the Global website (http://www.startupleadership.com/.) or to a local page we have created (http://www.builtinchicago.org/company/startup-leadership-program-chicago).
The challenge is that most of the information on the Global website is out of date or inaccurate as it is managed by an volunteer IT team based in India. Getting a current list of program Fellows and updating our sponsor logos took 6 months last year. The Global website reflects the ideals of the larger organization, which are in harmony with but slightly different from our local goals.
Pushing people to our Built in Chicago page has helped, but still leaves many individuals with a sense that the program is not legit. One fellow confided in me that he felt the program was sketchy and reluctantly came to our first event. After meeting the individuals involved, it relieved his concerns.
I believe our goals are easily accomplished in a 24 hour period. Given our support of the tech and entrepreneurial community, we hope that many of the participants in the hackathon will some day consider going through our program.
How our organization will use the technology
Who will use the technology
4 Messages from Supporters