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  • Writer's pictureSheikh Farzin Rahman

Vivacity's insights and progress with Creative Destruction Lab

Our Journey through Creative Destruction Lab

If you keep up with our blog, newsletter, or LinkedIn, odds are you know we’re one of 20 firms to join the Creative Destruction Lab’s Compute Stream in Vancouver. It’s a great honour for us to be a part of this program, and we’ve already seen so much value from it since our first session in November. So, we wanted to take this opportunity to share an update with you on our journey so far, some of our biggest takeaways, and where we’ll be going next on this front. Read on for our insider scoop on all things Creative Destruction Lab!

What is Creative Destruction Lab

The Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) was founded in 2012 at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto in Canada. Since its inception, CDL has expanded to multiple locations across North America and has become a significant force in supporting and accelerating the growth of technology startups in various industries. It's a unique accelerator program that brings together entrepreneurs, mentors, and experts from various fields to foster the development of cutting-edge startups in the technology sector.

CDL is not just your average startup accelerator; it's more like a high-tech incubator on steroids! The program has a strong focus on science and technology-driven companies, and is highly competitive - only 20 ventures were accepted into the 2023/24 Compute stream, from hundreds of awesome companies that applied. In addition, the program takes place over a year and is divided into four sessions, where ventures talk about their progress since their last update, discuss objectives for the next quarter, and receive valuable feedback from mentors. At the end of each session, at least one mentor must raise their hand in support of your venture - somewhat in X-Factor, or Canada’s got talent style. If no mentor raises their hand, the company is cut from the program. At a minimum, one company must be removed at each round.

Our first session took place in November, where we got the opportunity to tell the Vivacity story to several mentors, gain valuable feedback, and consider the top 3 most important objectives to advance our venture until the next session. Ultimately, we walked out of the session with valuable insights from our mentors, and a solid list of key objectives to focus on for the next few months. We were lucky to secure three incredible mentors under the program, which means we will continue to be a part of CDL and will be attending session two in late January!

What we’ve been up to since session one

Once we heard the great news about the three awesome mentors who will support us in the program, our work began by refining the initial objectives and making a game plan on how to achieve them by the stipulated time frame. The key areas of focus that emerged from this process were:

  1. Secure three VivaCitadel pilots

  2. Identify a key, replicable use case for non-tax revenue generation

  3. Develop pricing for VivaCitadel

Right off the bat, having these objectives to use as a north star for our product development has been massively impactful. Once these were set, we set out to undertake significant sales, research, and development work - which is where the bulk of our efforts on the product side have been directed over the last few months. As of December, our updates on each of the objectives are as follows:

  1. Secured pilots with Kamloops and Kelowna, working on finding our third;

  2. Property Information Requests (sometimes called Comfort Letters) are our top candidates for a replicable, revenue-generating use case;

  3. VivaCitadel should bring a net-positive to all cities, so we’re focusing on developing tier-based pricing to make VivaCitadel as accessible as possible

The updates above are incredibly exciting to us, and a massive thank you to the folks in the City of Kamloops and the City of Kelowna for seeing the vision and working with us to bring VivaCitadel to life. We’re proud of how far we’ve come, and looking forward to what the new year will bring!

Biggest Takeaways so far

As Vivacity’s Head of Product, my role is to bring new products to life by solving customer pains with technology. That being said, this is my first time working on a product of this scale, so there’s never been a shortage of learning opportunities along the way. CDL has been no different, so I wanted to highlight my biggest learnings over the last few months.

To me, the top lesson learned so far is to sell customers a product, not a vision. Specifically, this lesson is why we’ve refined our approach from trying to convey the grand vision for VivaCitadel to our clients, to prototyping and clearly stating one specific use case. Since we started to do this, our sales process has been much smoother, and we’ve been able to learn significantly more from potential customers by eliciting feedback on a specific use case rather than a far fetched vision. By pitching a prototype, however rough it might be, we’re able to show customers what we’re really talking about. This takes the conversation from hypotheticals to tangible value, and contributes to much more productive and useful discussions. Specificity = more sales + more useful feedback.

The other huge takeaway from the last few months is around the process for bringing a new product to life. Somewhat embarrassingly, I must admit I’ve often strived for perfection - undertake a ton of research, identify a key problem, build a solution using technology, then profit. In reality, product development is a much messier path than the one reflected above. I’ve learned that new product development is really all about formulating hypotheses and testing them as quickly and inexpensively as possible to minimize risk. In simple terms, this is starting from the assumption that our idea of a problem and its solution is likely wrong, so how can we show what we’re thinking quickly and get customers to tell us why it’s not quite there yet? Over the last few months, this approach has become more and more clear for me, and I’m looking forward to leveraging it more and more as we progress with our pilots.

What’s next?

Right now, we’re focused on completing as much work as possible on VivaCitadel before we close up shop for the holidays. We’ve been making exciting progress with the City of Kelowna, and are looking forward to kicking things off with Kamloops in the new year.

In 2024, we’ll be focusing on securing the third pilot project, while refining our pricing as we continue to talk to more customers. In addition, we’ll be exploring the Property Information Request / Comfort Letter use case in deep detail, including speaking with Real Estate Brokerages, Realtors, and City Stakeholders to fully understand the process today from end to end.

In late January, we’ll be travelling to Vancouver for CDL session 2 - where we’ll be showcasing our progress since the last session, building new objectives to help drive our progress, and hopefully securing mentors again to continue being a part of the CDL program!

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