CDL is a technology first program. We assess applicants on the novelty of their technology, its defensibility, and its potential for scale in one out of many potential industry verticals. To this effect, we also assess the founders’ acumen and the various business models that can be applied to make the technology massively scalable.
No. CDL accepts ventures from around the world. Many have strong links to university-based research labs but this is not a prerequisite.
Yes. CDL is complementary to other support networks for early stage ventures.
Yes. CDL excels at helping founders with deep technical expertise find the right business models and learn to operate their ventures.
Having a co-founder is not strictly required but is advisable. The majority of ventures admitted to the CDL have 2 or more co-founders.
CDL typically admits companies that have advanced beyond the concept stage and that have developed or are working on a prototype. Demonstrating that you are committed to building a product or service is important to unlocking interest and support from mentors and future investors.
There are no fees for participation.
There are multiple criteria you should consider when deciding which CDL location and stream to select as your preference. The most important considerations include:
Yes. Ventures that complete the interview stage will be asked to rank CDL locations and streams. Whenever possible, ventures will be offered admission to their preferred CDL location and stream.
No. A Venture can only be enrolled in one CDL location or stream in order to preserve continuity of relationships with the specific mentors who participate in each CDL location or stream.
All ventures must submit an application through the CDL Application Portal. Ventures will be informed by mid-August whether they have been shortlisted for the interview stage. Shortlisted candidates are interviewed mid- to late- August. Admission decisions are made in early September by a selection committee at each CDL location and a matching process is used to ensure that ventures are offered admission to their highest ranked stream and location that is willing to extend an offer of admission.
Yes. Some of CDL’s most impressive alumni are graduate students who used their research to found a company including:
CDL’s sweet spot is working with ventures that plan to raise a seed round (approx. US $500K to $5M) within 12 months of applying. However, several post-seed stage ventures have used the program as springboards to their Series A including Automat and Kyndi. You should speak to a CDL team member and consult the list of mentors linked to each Site to determine fit if you are thinking of applying as a later-stage candidate.
Yes. Many of the ventures admitted to CDL do not have significant recurring revenue. CDL has worked with many strong technical teams to help achieve product-market fit and to optimize early business models.
No. Build your company where you think you have the best opportunity to succeed. All we need from you is the commitment to send a founder to each of the five day-long CDL Sessions.
In direct response to COVID-19, each CDL location will follow the guidance of local public health officials to evaluate their ability to host in-person interviews. If possible, we do encourage in-person attendance. Ventures headquartered more than a 2-3 hour drive from a CDL locations will have the option of traveling to interview day to attend in person, or interviewing online via Zoom or Google Hangouts.
There is no guaranteed investment at CDL. Unlike other start-up programs, CDL does not directly fund any of the start-ups that enter into the program.
CDL Session days are the core offering and value add of the CDL program. In a typical cohort year at each CDL location, there are 4 CDL Sessions occurring every two months starting in the fall. There are two major components of a CDL Session which facilitate the curation and refinement of 3 measurable objectives that the ventures founding team will use to prioritize their efforts and benchmark their progress over the proceeding 2-month period. These components are:
The two-month objective cycle was constructed to reflect the changing and challenging nature of building a start-up. Any more than two months and a company’s strategic goals might change and may render any short-term objectives obsolete, any shorter and the objectives themselves become unachievable. Failure to accomplish the assigned objectives by the next CDL Session does not guarantee a specific outcome (like being dropped from the program), but it provides an anchor for the discussions with our Mentors to figure out if it was due to founder underperformance or if the objective itself was misguided.
Upon entering the program, each Venture is assigned a Venture Manager who serves as the gateway to the CDL network to facilitate introductions, referrals, and monitor the relationship with the Mentors who have pledged their time to support the company. A company’s survival is predicated on the dedication of 4 hours of a Mentors time in between Sessions. Ventures are usually paired with two of our Mentors that equates to at least 8 hours of mentorship between Sessions.
In response to COVID-19, we have developed the capabilities to deliver the program online. Each CDL location will follow the guidance of local public health officials to continually re-evaluate their ability to transition back to in-person sessions. The execution of Virtual CDL has allowed us to continue to provide support to our ventures at full capacity.
During an interview let us see why you are passionate about your work, be honest about your weak spots, and consider how our mentorship pool can support your company’s growth through their extensive expertise and experience.
CDL provides partner organizations curated opportunities to engage with the CDL Ecosystem – a world-class network of investors, mentors, scientists, economists, professors, entrepreneurs, and leaders, in addition to thousands of vetted ventures, and unique student talent from leading educational institutions.
Because CDL is housed within reputable universities, the CDL Partner Program includes exclusive educational opportunities that help leadership teams understand the impact, trends, and simple economics of emerging technology within a given industry. By attending CDL Sessions, partners can share their expertise, work with ventures, and see firsthand where investors and highly influential mentors are putting their money and time, allowing partner organizations to due diligence ventures before creating meaningful partnerships or running pilot projects with them.
The CDL partners program provides unique opportunities for partnered organizations to connect and collaborate with both active and alumni founders and ventures. CDL’s tailored venture recruitment strategy, paired with its admission requirements (no fee, no equity) creates the lowest barriers of entry possible for the highest performing scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs from around the world – ultimately providing partners with world-class pilot projects, collaborations, and investments.