I have an idea. What next?
At IndieBio, we often get bright scientists and aspiring entrepreneurs asking us what they should do to transform their idea into a company. We’ve all heard that “ideas are a dime a dozen” and “it’s all about the execution”. So, what are the best ways to execute?
Here are the steps we suggest to take:
1) Do Your Homework
It is very unlikely that no one has thought of your idea before. Do a thorough search of the web, scientific literature, and intellectual property landscape to see what has already been done and what similar technologies, products, or services are available. If your idea is truly original, be suspicious of why that might be. It could be that the technology is impossible, the business model is unsustainable, or the market is too small.
If there are competitors in the space already, it does not mean you should give up. Instead, understand the competitors’ businesses and assess your potential advantages and disadvantages. You will need to step up your game in speed and execution.
Check the intellectual property landscape to see whether you have freedom to operate. If not, are there ways to get around existing patents? There may be the possibility to license from the patent holder. If you have novel IP, submit a provisional patent as soon as possible. This will greatly help your chances with securing funding.
2) Build an A+++ Team
When asking investors what they look for when investing in a company, the overwhelming top answer is confidence in the team. The best teams can turn even mediocre ideas into gold, whereas the best ideas won’t even see the light of day with a dysfunctional team. The best teams recognize what skillsets are missing and bring in those who have complementary skills. The best teams are clearly aligned in mission and communicate effectively and frequently. The best teams care about building company culture with a unified vision and put aside individual egos. Founding teams are very much like a marriage, so chose very wisely.
Do not underestimate the need for sales, marketing, and communication. In fact, all the co-founders are responsible for pitching the company. Effective communication and presentation skills are just as important as technical skills.
3) Building a Product Prototype
A technology itself is not a product, and without a product, there can be no business. From an initial technological insight, a single product must be identified and prototyped as much as possible. To determine what product to pursue, interview potential customers and talk to experts in the field. Most people would not be critical to your face, so find ways to get honest answers. An initial strategy is to distribute anonymous surveys to your target demographic. However, ultimately, the biggest validation is when you receive purchase commitments. Even if you can’t deliver the product yet, signed letters of intent are very valuable for fundraising.
The path of an entrepreneur is full of dark forests and windy roads. Your passion and devotion to the mission of your company is the only thing that will keep you going when times get tough. Make sure you and your co-founders are in it for the right reasons and dedicated to solving your particular problem over the next 5, 10, or 20 years.
Start the Journey
Once you have carefully considered the four steps above, it is time to begin your entrepreneurship journey. The best strategy is to start selling your product to customers as soon as possible. It is only when direct sales is not possible that you seek funding, such as needing initial capital for research and development. Common funding sources are government grants, friends and family investments, angel investments, or applying to an accelerator program like IndieBio.
IndieBio is the world’s largest life sciences accelerator. Companies from all over the world apply to be part of a 4 month acceleration program which includes $250,000 funding, dedicated mentorship, and 24/7 access to a co-working space and bio-safety level 1 & 2 labs. During the program, teams are focused on turning science into product, closing customers, and raising follow-on investment.
With a focus on biology as a technology, IndieBio companies solve problems in a huge range of industries such as the future of food, biopharma and healthcare, agtech, regenerative medicine, neurotech, biomaterials, and more.
Apply today and begin your journey!