This night of December 2013…
When I had the brillant idea to create a medical device.
I remember clearly that night when I was having a burger in a food court at a Mall in Dubai, wondering whether or not I wanted to pursue my advertising career. What was for sure, was that I loved creating things and I still do, but I wanted to bring something unique to people, something useful they would like. Something I will be proud to share with my peers.
I love to create, have I told you that already? I am constantly creating stuffs, paintings, photography, design, videos, music and I dedicate myself to these things in a very serious way, but never manage to be perfectly happy with what I create — Does perfection exist? —
Anyways, I laid back on my chair while eating my last French fry and I looked at my Ventolin that was lying on the table next to the red plastic tray.
I looked up at the crowd around, then again at my Ventolin…
I looked at my Ventolin…
This was it! At this exact minute, I was deeply convinced this was a brilliant idea. Yeah! I will do this; I will make it like that… I will connect my Ventolin to my phone and I will create an awesome design. And also, I will totally innovate in the way a brand communicates about a medical product. I was so excited and passionate about the idea, so much, that I stopped my other creative activities.
That’s funny right? I had the solution next to me, with me, for all these years and I couldn’t expect my disease will be one day the rocket that will send my creativity toward new skies.
I am thankful I didn’t’ ear this voice telling me “Calm Down David…calm down…take it easy, it will be a really hard way…really hard, more than what you can expect.”
Now, 3 years later, I am wondering: If I could have envisioned what it takes to put a medical device out there on the market, would have I pursued my brilliant idea or would have I threw it away to the garbage, along with my burger leftovers?
So how does it work to market a medical device?
First you must enter a big room — let’s call it “Entrepreneurship Room” — where you find a bunch of doors. Each door leads to other rooms, full of doors, and so on …You can choose your own way, follow your own vision and your rebellious mind, and then at the end, if you are smart enough and well organized you will reach your goal, but watch out, there are so many doors that you can lose yourself on the way.
No, actually it is not like that at all, and it is normal not to know it at the beginning, because you are not coming from a medical environment and at that moment your focus is innovation, the product, its strategy and maybe communication. Plus, you are so excited by the result that you forgot something I will call essential.
In fact you have to visit both the “Entrepreneurship room” and at the same time another Big room — the “Regulation Room” —
In this room you find different doors, but the thing you don’t know is that all the doors lead to the same final room, but the way that leads to it can be either long or short, depending on which door you decided to open first.
Then after months / years to figure out the process with this feeling that you went back and forth most of the time, you finally get to this main Room. This room is pretty empty because you only have 2 doors — Yeah!! — . On the left door it is written “slow” and on the right one it is written “fast”. As a start-up you need to go fast so you take the right one. And you find out that in the center of the “fast” room there is a cash desk where you have to pay a lot of money to pass, but you don’t have this money yet, so the cashier advises you to go back to the “slow” room.
Now, how can I describe the “Slow” room? Well it is more a tunnel than a room, it’s pretty messy, and deep, but at the same time very white and clear. There are people who speak Chinese or Indie or whatever language you don’t understand. So you learn the language, read documents, more documents, again and again. — in Chinese — to be able to make a step forward.
You start to look for a hidden door that will make it simple or shorter but, don’t waste your time, there is none, the only exit door is at the end of the tunnel or at the beginning if you want to give up, and this idea crossed my mind more than one time.
The more I’m getting closer, the more things are getting clearer but I still have this thought constantly present in my mind. “If it’s such a brilliant idea, why nobody made it before? Is it because nobody thought about it or because it’s too difficult, or worst, impossible because of something that I still haven’t figured out”
The thing is, you don’t know what will be the conclusion at the end of the tunnel. Will you sell your product, or not? Even if the market is ready, even if your business plan is incredibly strong, even if everybody around you — including friends, family, professionals — admit the idea is genius, nothing tells you if you will be actually able to see the result of the risks you are taking right now. And there is nothing you can do about it.
So close your eyes and go with the flow.
Where I am now?
I will say in the middle of the tunnel. I have something great to sell — I can’t reveal it now, I have to protect myself — but I still don’t know if I will be able to sell it, and if I do, how long it will take. The thing is, I am in a hurry, my cash is getting very low and sometimes I think about giving up because it’s more than a just launching a start-up, it’s about launching a start-up in a very controlled environment, where you need authorizations from several tiers to be able to sell your product.
There is no way to fake it, there is no way to bullshit about it, there is no way to skip steps.
You know, sometimes I just want to stop, there are too many question marks in this business. Maybe, it is too big for my first company, I could stop now, I didn’t invest too much yet…I could do something different, something easy, I have a bunch of very good ideas in the back of my mind you know, but I won’t…I am too curious to know the ending and I always believed that I had this gift, this irrational thing you can’t learn at school, this thing called intuition, and I want to prove myself that it is not an invention coming from a frustrated mind. I’m not doing it for the fame, to claim I am an entrepreneur or a CEO of a start-up, I don’t give a fuck about that, I just want to create and succeed to create again…
So I close the eyes and I go with the flow :)
That’s all for my very first article, usually people share their stories after they succeed but I like the idea of sharing the story while it’s happening. So I will write soon about the up-and-downs of this adventure and my complete experience on how to market a medical device when you are not from a pharmaceutical or medical environment…but before I have to succeed. :)