CDL is a non-profit objectives-based mentorship program for pre-seed to seed stage deep tech startups who are building massively scalable products/services.
CDL looks for ventures with technology that is novel, defensible and scalable with exciting potential.
CDL is a place for ambitious founders of science and technology-based ventures to come and crowdsource feedback on business strategy and tactics from credible mentors with a history of building/scaling/investing in/advising startups. The program is designed around 5 full-day objective setting sessions where mentors work with founders to help refine the 3 most important sprint-style objectives to accomplish over the next 8-week interval en route to their next major inflection point.
Put another way, CDL is a rich community of entrepreneurs, investors, scientists and industry experts that collectively volunteer their time to support promising early stage tech companies as they refine their business and investment strategy as they work to become a massively successful company.
Intensive full-day sessions with the CDL Mentors take place every eight weeks with the purpose of assessing progress and setting new short-term objectives. Fellows and Associates provide professional judgment (entrepreneurial knowledge) to help guide CDL Ventures and prioritize actions.
The program is designed for early-stage, science-based technology companies, though we consider all applicants based on their potential to scale and the viability of their product. CDL’s objective-setting process enhances the performance of technical founders who learn from the insights of experienced entrepreneurs, increasing their probability of success.
There are multiple criteria you should consider when deciding which CDL location and stream to select as your preference. The most important considerations include:
Geographic Location – If there is a geographic location that maximizes your venture’s growth prospects, you should apply to the CDL location closest to that location to benefit from its connections to local markets, investors and mentors.
Mentors – Different Fellows, Associates, Scientists, Economists and Investigators participate at different CDL locations and in different CDL Streams. These mentors are an important determinant of your experience at CDL because they are the individuals that will help you set objectives and potentially invest in your company. Consult the list of Mentors here.
Specialization – CDL locations offer specialized streams. These specializations are used to concentrate mentors and ventures into specific technology/inudstry pools to maximize the credibility of the guidance provided to ventures. If your venture is a strong match with a stream’s focus, you should consider applying to that stream because of the concentrated support you will receive from investors, scientists, and partners who are leaders in the respective specialization.
That said, depending on the backgrounds of participating mentors, Prime (general technology) streams can also be as beneficial for ventures who have yet to select a market or who are seeking more entrepreneurship-specific guidance.
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.