A New Mindset: The Creative Destruction Lab Session One

I am so fortunate to have been given the unique opportunity to visit the Creative Destruction Lab(CDL) at the Rotman School of Management!

My day was spent with not a few, but giant rooms full of investors and successful entrepreneurs, basically people who are changing the world. Talking to these people and observing their different conversations, has given me such meaningful insight into the rapidly changing world of innovation.

The Knowledge Society and the Creative Destruction Lab, have already been a great asset in pushing me to the tech-world by giving me this amazing opportunity, where I have learned so much!

Although I love business, innovation, and entrepreneurship, being a girl who is only 14 years old, makes it especially hard to be taken seriously amongst others with the same passion. Bringing many more women and teenagers will triple the number of people working on major problems in the world; making it possible for solutions to form much quicker. CDL hosts a High School Girl Program run by Ani Chemilian, who I am really grateful to, for choosing me to be apart of Session 1 at CDL!

Me with Ani

Being one of the few people chosen, I was able to spend the entire day shadowing Elizabeth Caley(EC) who is a very inspiring woman. This inspirational entrepreneur has earned many degrees and is apart of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Not only does she tackle world issues every day, but also had a startup that was acquired by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative called Meta. This company developed a search engine that can provide and understand many scientific papers, which can further be used by researchers around the world to be given relevant and reliable information. EC is a kind and truly incredible woman who I am so lucky to have met!

The Creative Destruction Lab works to massively scale-up many different startups that unlock the potential of disrupting the science-technologies industry. This field is the most important way to enhance our world, and a big problem with this is that it isn’t developing at a much more rapid speed; which is exactly what CDL is trying to fix.

Schedule

Our day started with individually meeting with five different ventures who were looking for business advice from successful entrepreneurs and investors like EC. The importance of these short ‘meetings’ was to agree on three clear objectives that could be achieved before the next session. I was able to observe their interactions, and actually meet these amazing people. There were two observations :

Be Concise Every venture only had 18 minutes without leeway, so it was very important to get right to the point because every minute was valuable.

Keep it Casual — Be authentic with everyone you talk to because this is what creates real connections that can possibly be an asset to you

My second portion of the day was spent in the smart cities room(there was also the Artificial Intelligence, Space, and Green rooms) with at least thirty people who had the same role as EC. With only 10 minutes each, a total of 25 different ventures were addressed, and given the agreed upon objectives. I think this structure was really effective because multiple opinions were considered. The most important commonality was how much of a problem competitors are. The ways I’ve learned to beat these competitors are by having:

  1. More Applications Always think about where does this product fit into the future, which is why it is so important to have some form of technology implemented because this is what is leading our generation. There is also way more room to expand, don’t stay focused in one specific sector, always think big and look at other markets as well, perhaps one with fewer competitors can also be a better option.
  2. More Funding My mentor and the other advisors were mentioning a million dollars like it was nothing, which really opened up my eyes. Thousands of grants and opportunities are available for startups, and raising the money you need really isn’t hard at all.
  3. More Customers Users are very important because you need them for your product’s success. Giving customers what they want is something that is cheap and convenient, which is exactly what you should be providing. The quality of customers is something to consider as well; having a really big customer is better than a bunch of really small ones, but always keep in mind that any customer is better no customer.

The last part of the day was taken up by CDL Max, which showcased 3–4 companies from each room that would receive the most value from all of the entrepreneurs together. These specific startups were looking for more funding by getting connections through the investors.

Outstanding Startup

One of my favourite startups was Poof Data Technologies, which I believe will be the next big thing. The company is digitalizing the government processes, which creates a much more efficient and effective way to tackle paperwork or issues sent to officials.

Me with My Mentor (Elizabeth Caley)

Key Takeaways:

Do things fast, Don’t wait The world is changing at a rapid speed, so if you don’t take actions on your ideas, in just a year there will be a hundred more people with the same idea, who WILL act on it.

Invest yourself, Before you ask others to invest money Why should people trust you if you don’t trust yourself? To show that you are serious about your company, you must fully commit.

Don’t be afraid, Take risks Something I learned was evident at the CDL session as well. “Unconventional success comes from an unconventional path” — Nadeem Nathoo

Build connections, Is your most important asset You never know how important someone you talk to can be. These people can potentially be investors or help you later on in your life, so take advantage of it.

Be direct Time is very limited, especially pitch time, so take away the fluff and get right to the point.

Have a purpose for everything Don’t do things just because, have a reason, whether it all contributes to a big goal or not.

Think about the future How does what your doing right now affect the future? Always consider the long-term influence, and the impact something will have. Right now technology is taking over, it is best if you are apart of the change and not left behind.

Don’t limit yourself, Strive for more Think big and don’t keep yourself in a cage; you should constantly be thinking outside of the box. Nothing is perfect because it can be improved, again and again, so don’t stop trying!

Look for opportunities, And take them Our world is a big place, and we are given so many chances. When you want something, don’t hesitate, just go out there, and get it! Go to events, because you never know what you can get out of it!

My overall experience at the Creative Destruction Lab was so valuable to me, and hopefully, I will get the chance to go back and witness more innovation in the works!

Someday, the experiences and knowledge I have gained at the session might be of use for my own startup.

Thanks again to TKS and CDL for making this day possible for me!