Otherwise is excited to announce our partnership with The Junto Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership. A new “school” for start-up founders, The Junto Institute has selected Otherwise as a professional service partner. I had the opportunity to speak with founder and Chicago entrepreneurial thought leader, Raman Chada:
EN: What inspired the establishment of the Institute and this unique way of supporting founders?
RC: The Junto Institute is the next step for graduates of accelerator programs, built in the context of a school for the founders of start-up companies. Junto was born out of a series of observations. The first observation was that more and more college graduates were turning to starting their own companies. Previous generations had established their careers in large institutions before leaving to build their own businesses. These younger entrepreneurs were missing those types of opportunities and were left to their own devices.
The second observation was that I saw an opportunity between the accelerator programs that helped foster start-ups in their early stages and when a founder was completely on its own. Junto addresses this need to support founders who are just taking off. The third observation was that every single successful company is led by a strong leader. When leadership capabilities are focused on in the early stages of development, the pay off for a company is greater in the long term.
EN: Junto is focused on mentoring people to cultivate the skills for success (leadership, character, management, integrity, etc.). Can you talk about the “people” side of startups?
RC: Start-up accelerators focus on the business of a company: the product, the demographic, sales and marketing, and so fourth. Very little attention is paid to the people who are running the company. Company founders are often left wondering where they can turn to seek their own mentor. There are very few places to go to learn the personal business side of a business. While strong leadership cannot be taught, it can be learned. Experience + Discovery = Change.
EN: What do you believe are the ideal qualities/characteristics that a start-up founder should posses?
RC: It depends on what stage the founder is in. I define a start-up as involving multiple founders, intent to build a business that is bigger than the founders, to create something of value. To launch any business, an individual must possess a great deal of drive and tenacity. I think the ideal quality in a founder is the ability to cope with and adapt to uncertainty and ambiguity.
EN: What is the role that your partners play, including Otherwise, in fostering the growth and success of Junto, and therefore the growth and success of your start-up founders?
RC: Junto is a holistic program that focuses on emotional intelligence, management skills and leadership development. We have teamed up with four professional service partners, trusted advisors who will act as instructors and mentors. You don’t go fishing for someone, you teach them how to fish.
EN: What did you see in Otherwise that resonated with your vision and led you to seek our partnership?
RC: I have lots of respect and admiration for what the leadership has built at Otherwise, such as the ability to embrace start-ups. Otherwise has entrepreneurial roots and can relate to and connect with start-ups. Otherwise has the desire and motivation to work with start-ups. Your quality of work is also very impressive and I admire it and have respect for what you turn around.
EN: At the end of the program, what do you expect your “students” to have learned about branding/marketing?
RC: It is critical that our start-ups understand the importance of investing in branding and marketing from the very beginning. Branding is relevant and start-ups often wait too long to realize this. Many start-ups don’t have a background in marketing at all, and I want them to become smarter. I want them to learn critical concepts and ideas that they need to pay attention to.
Junto offers a four-part program: financial services, HR services, legal services and branding/marketing services. These are the four tools I want start-ups to have in their toolbox, which shows how highly I view the importance of branding and marketing. I want them to learn from a firm that can relate to a start-up and that is innovative and creative and isn’t stuck in the old ways of doing business.
Emmaline Niendorf is a Content Manager for Otherwise Incorporated.