Creative Destruction Lab Comes to HEC Paris

Coming this September to HEC Paris, the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) puts our MBA students on the frontlines of launching a startup. This innovative, seed-stage program has a proven track record for vaulting science- and technology-based companies to commercial success.

With its focus on accelerating business growth, the nine-month-long program matches massively scalable companies with a group of carefully selected entrepreneurs, investors, scientists, economists, business professors and MBA students. Using an objectives-based approach, the CDL’s mentors help companies cut through distractions and focus on meeting critical short-term goals. This approach has proven its success: to date, the CDL has helped nurture startups worth over $5.9 billion in equity. Firms such as Xanadu, North and Nymi all got their start in the CDL.

Professor Thomas Astebro

Established by Professor Ajay Agrawal at the Rotman School of Management, the CDL has welcomed 1,000 entrepreneurs representing over 70 countries since its inception in 2012. HEC Paris is only the eighth university worldwide to become a CDL site. Each site focuses on a different issue, and HEC Paris is launching CDL Climate, kicking off its program this autumn with 25 climate-orientated startups.

HEC Paris’ CDL initiative is being led by Professor Thomas Astebro, Professor of Entrepreneurship. “The 25 selected startups will be accompanied by the best and brightest of our HEC Paris students,” Astebro says. “For them, this is an intense and hugely enriching experiential learning where they interact with cutting-edge innovators, propose and then see some of their ideas give birth to concrete improvements.”

From September 2020 through May 2021, 30 HEC Paris MBA students will join the CDL for its pilot year. They will work with founders to develop financial models, evaluate potential markets, and fine-tune strategies for scaling. The program will require about 100 hours of work from the MBA students, with roughly 1/3rd of that taking place in the classroom and 2/3rds working as consultants. At the end of the program, MBA participants will receive a HEC Paris-CDL certificate.

For the companies, the intense nine-month program cumulates in a “Super Session,” a capstone event which brings the most promising ventures from all the CDL sites to Toronto for an invitation-only, 2-day session focused on networking, business mentoring and the opportunity to raise capital.