On October 14/15, we began the second year of Creative Destruction Lab-Wisconsin. The Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) is a global program, running at 10 universities. CDL focuses on seed-stage ventures, offering the founders mentoring from a rich collection of mentors who have had successful exits and/or experience in the field. The intention is to build the ventures in massively scalable enterprises. We are the only site to host a “Risk” stream. This year we also began a “Health and Wellness” stream, with Professor Richie Davidson as the impetus for our focus on wellness. Dr. Davidson is the Founder and Director of The Center for Healthy Minds, and is a world-renowned expert in wellness.
CDL works toward development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. For each stream, 20 firms are invited to start the cohort. They are mentored over a 9-month period by approximately 30 mentors. They also interact with students from UW-Madison, including the Wisconsin School of Business, Computer Science, Engineering, the Medical School, and other parts of campus. We come together every two months to discuss progress made on the three objectives the founders set for the coming eight weeks, and to set the next group of objectives. We also decide who continues in the program. Mentors can volunteer to give 4 hours of their time in between sessions. If no one volunteers for a particular venture, that venture is not invited to return for the next session.
Last year, out of 21 ventures in the program, 8 graduated to “super session,” which is a program where all graduates and all mentors come together in Toronto, home of the original CDL. It is a time to celebrate and to obtain input from a broad array of mentors. One of our ventures, Hazard Hub, was purchased by Guidewire this past summer. A second, TrustLayer, obtained a seed round of $15 million. The other six also appear to be doing well, having closed funding rounds of various amounts, and we are excited for each one of them. This year we hope to have many more graduates, especially given that we have two streams, but also because everyone knows what to expect this time around.