Social Impact

February 2020 — #Alex Ramamurthy

Social Impact

The Startup Leadership Program (SLP) is a highly selective, global, not-for-profit education programme and lifelong network for the next generation of entrepreneurs who want to become the best startup CEOs. Classes are held on evenings or weekends. No equity is taken, just a small fee on admission to cover costs such as materials, food, drink and venue hire.

On Monday 27th January 2020 we held the "Give Back/Social Impact" class, led by myself.

This session guided fellows through the first two stages of an accelerated Design Sprint focused on key issues felt by SLP itself.

Fellows used learning from past SLP sessions in conjunction with our personal and professional experiences to develop new solutions for SLP to take forward and test in their community.

SLP faces key challenges both in London and globally; Beyond small local, personal bonds, SLP lacks a “platform-wide” incentive and reward system to facilitate fellows to keep returning to the community (no equity, no physical location, fluid team, no structure, voluntary, low brand awareness). The voluntary nature of SLP means there is no structured resource. The program is entirely dependent on fellows and volunteers. How do you build on this organisation to develop meaningful value to current and prospective fellows?

This was the Challenge put to my class. Full class notes and structure can be viewed here.

We kicked off the session in the usual way; a chance for Fellows to update us on anything notable that happened in the past week (good or bad), and then onto my book recommendations.

Book Recommendations

My first recommendation is a classic; ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ (the top ten lessons have been summarised at the bottom of the page, below)

Next, was an unusual but highly entertaining book my partner introduced me to; ‘The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet’.

Winnie the Pooh's way of doing things seems strangely close to the ancient principle of Taoist philosophy, while Piglet exhibits the very important principle in Taoism of the Te, meaning Virtue of the Small. The author's explanations of Taoism and Te through Pooh and Piglet show that this is not an ancient and remote philosophy but something that you can use, here and now.

Design Challenge

This brought us onto the Design Challenge itself. To kick off it was crucial fellows had a deep understanding of challenges faced by SLP and were able to ask clarifying questions to get as much info as possible before they started brainstorming solutions (or solutionising as I like to call it, but was reminded several times…this is not a word!).

Anupendra Sharma, the Founder and US Chapter Lead, was connected in via Skype to share his reasons for establishing SLP in 2006 and his understanding of the key challenges. Steven Hess, UK Chapter Lead, also shared his thoughts on the key challenges and both answered questions from fellows.

We kicked off by dividing fellows into small groups of 3-4, followed by rapid post-it note brainstorming, narrowing down ideas, grouping, and evaluation.

Next we gave fellows time to plan and present their solution back to the group.

  • Team 1’s solution can be viewed here
  • Team 2’s (chosen winners) solution can be viewed here
  • Team 3’s solution can be viewed here

Based on the feedback received it seems fellows thoroughly enjoyed this class. I found it exhausting to fit the first two stages of an accelerated design sprint into a 3-hour period but am incredibly impressed with what the fellows came up with. It also felt good to give back to an organisation that has given me, in such a short space of time, so much, not least a new group of friends that I can rely on to support me through my startup journey.

We will work with SLP to implement aspects of fellow’s ideas and report back in due course!