The Creative Destruction Lab is a non-profit organization that delivers an objectives-based program for massively scalable, seed-stage, science- and technology-based companies. Over a period of nine months, participating startups attend five full-day Sessions during which CDL Mentors – a carefully selected group of exited entrepreneurs, experienced operators, angel investors, and partners from leading venture capital firms – help to set three objectives for ventures to prioritize over the following eight weeks. Participating ventures have the opportunity to interface with, and learn from, individual and corporate partners, UW students and pedigreed guests who bring a wide range of domain expertise and ecosystem connections. 

CDL-Wisconsin was launched in July 2020 by UW-Madison’s Wisconsin School of Business and School of Computer, Data and Information Sciences to support deep-tech startups who are increasing society’s resiliency. The CDL program was founded in 2012 at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business. By encouraging startup growth, CDL furthers the UW commitment to The Wisconsin Idea, the principle that the university’s work should improve people’s lives beyond the classroom, impacting people across the state of Wisconsin, the nation, and the world. 

Marketplace for Judgment

The CDL program seeks to create a marketplace for judgment to help founders build a deep tech company, expanding the locales in which startups are able to grow and thrive. In the context of early stage companies, CDL defines judgment as the capacity of an executive to prioritize from a long to-do list; what is most critical to do this week, next week or next month. The marketplace for judgment brings experienced, successful founders together to advise early stage companies as they prepare for massively scalable growth.

One of the key challenges for a founder is to make sure that we focus our attention on the right topics. And the entire CDL program is organized in such a way that very experienced mentors help you to actually prioritize those topics so you actually spend your time wisely. –Jos Gheerardyn,, CDL-Wisconsin Risk 2020/21 Graduate