Vivacity Technologies Secures Three Mentors at CDL Session 1
Our Creative Destruction Lab Journey so far
If you keep up with us on LinkedIn and on VivaScoop, our monthly newsletter, you might have heard that we’re one of 20 ventures to join the Creative Destruction Lab program under the Compute stream, based in Vancouver. A lot has happened since we were first approached to apply to the program a few months ago, so we wanted to write this blog post to share more about the experience, the process, and what the future holds for us given the program. So read on for our honest perspective as a CDL venture!
What is the 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.
How we got involved with CDL
We first heard about the CDL program when our CEO, George Emery, attended the MISA BC conference in Victoria a few years back. During that conference, Dr. Ajay Agrawal, founder of CDL, held a keynote address where he discussed the opportunity municipalities have to be innovative and shape the future of Canadian communities by working with resources and programs like CDL. We loved the presentation, as it is strongly aligned with the innovative perspective we strive to bring to the work we do with cities and First Nations organizations.
In parallel, since that conference we’ve been building out our product development program at Vivacity. This includes our Public Key Infrastructure platform, VivaPKI, and most recently our data management platform for cities, VivaCitadel. Through the hard work of the team, we’ve made great strides on this front, recently completing our MVP and securing our first pilot deployments of the platform. In this process, we were approached by a CDL recruiter to discuss the program and see if we might be interested in applying for the Compute stream!
Initially our team was somewhat divided - on the one hand, participating in this program could be massively valuable to our organization and to build out expertise across the team, but on the other hand this is a significant time commitment given everyone’s plate is already pretty full. Ultimately we decided to forge ahead though, and were lucky to be accepted into the program for the 2023/24 cohort under the Compute stream.
What the CDL experience has been like so far
Once we were accepted, we were immediately flooded with a number of emails, meetings, and assignments to be completed to get us ready for session 1. To be truly honest, this was a bit overwhelming at first, especially as we juggled the delivery of several projects, the completion of our MVP, and defining our strategy for the next year. As a team of eight, the amount of work on this front was certainly significant. That being said, the process itself did have some value - we were forced to articulate our venture, product, and value propositions in a much more clear way, and received valuable feedback from mentors and technical evaluators on our company and technology.
In preparation for session one, we headed down to Vancouver and spent a good chunk of time reviewing our documentation, preparing for tough questions, and building a list of mentors we’d love to be connected to during the session. Arriving on site was really surprising - the venue was beautiful, and people were extremely welcoming to us as we grabbed our coffees and teas in preparation for the big day. A sequence of awesome small group meetings followed, where we sat down with 3-4 mentors and got the chance to tell them our story and receive feedback. The value of these meetings alone made participating in the program more than worth it - the mentors we worked with posed great questions and challenges to our assumptions, and gave us valuable feedback and insights on how we might tackle the next 2-3 months.
Ultimately we had to knock it out of the park and hope that at least one mentor would raise a hand in support of Vivacity. Following the small meetings, we embarked on our large group discussion, where one venture stands in front of a room filled with dozens of Canada’s brightest minds and receives a critique from the whole room over 10 minutes or so. Our team stood proud and listened attentively to the words of the mentors, who made some excellent points about our product and go-to-market strategy, and had mixed feelings about an IT consulting company who is venturing into product development and choosing governments as our main customers.
I’d say our efforts in preparing for and attending the session were certainly not in vain. We heard from a few mentors that they might be interested in working with us, and eventually received the official news - we secured 3 awesome mentors to support our objectives for the next session! A huge shout out to Edoardo De Martin, Peter Lukomskyj, and Brian Clare - thank you for believing in the VivaTeam, and we’re all looking forward to learning from you over the next several weeks!
What’s next for us in the CDL program
After session one, we finalized our objectives with the support of our mentors. Our focus will be on securing three pilot projects for VivaCitadel, refining our product pitch and positioning by validating one key revenue-generating use case, and defining our pricing strategy for the VivaCitadel platform. We believe working on these three areas will be greatly beneficial to growing our product offerings, and establishing VivaCitadel as a key value-adder for municipalities and their citizens in Canada and beyond. Our next CDL session will take place in late January, and by then we hope to have significant updates to share with our network and the CDL community - so stay tuned as there’s exciting news to come!