DC's first Startup Leadership Program cohort gears up for Demo Day - Technical.ly DC

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Apr. 14, 2016 12:51 pm

DC’s first Startup Leadership Program cohort gears up for Demo Day

For 14 early-stage entrepreneurs, SLP has offered vital support — and community.

A scene from SLP D.C.

(Courtesy photo)

As a solo entrepreneur leading a small team, “sitting alone in a coworking space for 10 hours gets pretty lonely and depressing,” Justin Hinh, founder of Vice Price, profiled here, told Technical.ly.

So when a little bit of Googling yielded the Startup Leadership Program last summer, Hinh decided to give it a go. “What did I have to lose?” He paid the $500 dollars, and he was in.

The Startup Leadership Program, though you may not have heard of it, is not an entirely random offering. The nonprofit organization was founded in 2006 in Boston, and has since has expanded to 26 cities in 12 countries. SLP offers six-month programs for founders that focus not on the idea, per say, but on the founder herself. As you may have heard it said by VCs: Always bet the jockey, not the horse.

During these six months, the fellows meet for evening roundtable discussions or lectures with industry leaders, VCs and mentors once every three weeks. They’ve also got access to SLP’s network — the 2,000+ entrepreneurs who have participated in the program over the past years as well as other advocates and supporters.

This year was SLP’s first in the District. Program Leader Prarthna Vasudevan told Technical.ly they put out an announcement in May 2015, accepted 14 fellows and the chapter officially launched in October. Since then the diverse class has spend six months working hard on their products and meeting with a veritable who’s who of DMV tech and investment leaders.

This coming Saturday, April 16, marks the culmination of D.C.’s inaugural SLP cohort — the class will hold a Demo Day event at 1776 in Crystal City. There will be keynote speeches, there will be pitches, there will be a product fair.

So how’d the program go?

For Hinh, one of the biggest benefits was the sense of community. “It was nice to know I was no longer alone,” he said.

And Vice Price, his company, has come a long way in the span of the past six months. When he started SLP, Hinh said, he was very much still in the idea phase, and was still pretty set on creating an app to tell people where the cheapest cigarettes could be found. Now, when the app launches in beta form on Saturday, it will focus on happy hours. He says the support of SLP was vital to that pivot.

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Curious to learn more about SLP? You can register for Demo Day here, and go hear pitches about everything from entertainment for pets to edtech and beyond. Vasudevan also told Technical.ly that the program will be looking for applicants to cohort No. 2 soon, so keep an eye out for that.

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