Very often, start-ups fail at the earliest stages. They might get the wrong advice at a critical point, or they can’t raise the first hundreds of thousands of dollars required to move from prototype to initial product.
This problem is relatively minor in large, vibrant ecosystems like Silicon Valley, but can be more pervasive in smaller locations that lack the depth and breadth of experienced start-up advisors and angel investors. It is also especially prevalent in companies that create “hard tech.”
Since being founded by Ajay Agrawal a few years ago at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, the Creative Destruction Lab has done an amazing job filling this void for the Toronto / Waterloo ecosystem.
CDL provides milestone-based coaching with the goal of maximizing equity-value creation. The program’s coaches are successful entrepreneurs with years of experience in building and scaling technology-oriented companies. These are founders like Ted Livingston (Kik), Michael Serbinis (Kobo), Geordie Rose (DWave), or Daniel Debow (Rypple).
CDL start-ups have gone on to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in funding and include success stories like Thalmic Labs and our own portfolio company Vertical.ai. CDL has also turned into one of the most important feeder programs for Y Combinator.
I have been involved in the Toronto program for the past two years and have been incredibly impressed by the quality of the entrepreneurs, companies, and fellow coaches. I am therefore very happy that CDL will expand west and start a similar program at the University of British Columbia starting in January 2017.
I am currently helping them to put together an equally strong group of coaches for CDL West and am very grateful that we already have commitments from successful entrepreneurs like Jeff Mallett and Jeff Booth with many more to follow in due course.
Software is eating the world and I hope that the CDL programs in both Toronto and Vancouver will create their share of disruptors.