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 Site 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 Sites and Streams. Whenever possible, ventures will be offered admission to their preferred Site and Stream.
No. A Venture can only be enrolled in one Site or Stream in order to preserve continuity of relationships with the specific mentors who participate in each Site or Stream.
All ventures must apply using the appropriate form on our Application Page. You will be informed by the end of August whether you have been shortlisted for the interview stage. Shortlisted candidates are interviewed in September. Admission decisions are made in late September by a selection committee at each CDL Site and a matching process is used to ensure that ventures are offered admission to the highest ranked Site and Stream that is willing to offer 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.
Yes, but we encourage you to attend an in-person Interview Day. Each Site will hold an in-person Interview Day in mid-September for ventures that advance to the interview stage. Ventures headquartered more than a 2-3 hour drive from any CDL Site will have the option of travelling 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 accelerator programs, CDL does not fund any of the start-ups directly 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 Site, 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 Mentor’s 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 Mentor’s who have pledged their time to support the company. A company’s survival is predicated on the dedication of 4 hours of a Mentor’s time in between Sessions. Ventures are usually paired with two of our Mentors that equates to at least 8 hours of mentorship between Sessions.
From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting crisis, CDL prepared a contingency plan for the virtual delivery of all remaining CDL Sessions across each of its 6 active Sites for the 2019/20 Program Year. Social distancing and containment measures imposed in Europe and North America that took effect during the middle of March moved our delivery of Sessions to online. The execution of Virtual CDL has allowed us to continue to provide support to our ventures at full capacity. The in-person format of CDL has transitioned smoothly to a virtual experience, giving us confidence in our ability to maintain the quality for the 2020/21 Program Year. CDL continues to operate, albeit in a new format.