Last night I had the opportunity to attend another Meet the Author event sponsored by Bioentrepreneur. As discussed in a previous post, Bioentrepreneur is a site sponsored by Nature Biotechnology, designed as a educational resource for scientists interested in commercializing their research. The speaker was Thomas Gunning, vice president and general counsel at EMD Serono.
Gunning offered some advice for building a successful startup. As outlined in his article, published in Nature Biotechnology last year, Gunning discussed five key elements to developing a successful business. First off, bioentrepreneurs should pay close attention to detail. You never know when you will have the opportunity to close a deal, and that chance may come and go all too quickly. By being organized and prepared to discuss your business venture at anytime, you can avoid missed opportunities. Second, make sure your product is unique. Otherwise, there won’t be a market for it. Even if you have improved an existing product, it is key that you are able to market your product as either the best-in-class or novel.
Gunning also discussed freedom to operate and exclusivity. Patent and legal issues like these are something that we, as scientists, must pay close attention to. After all, this is not what we are trained in, so it is particularly important you don’t limit your market and financial possibilities with patent issues. So how are we supposed to prevent issues like these? That is where Gunning’s next piece of advice comes in. Surround yourself with the best and brightest advisors you can find. That includes lawyers, investors, management teams and scientists. By building the strongest team possible, your company will be more likely to succeed. Finally, Gunning discussed the importance of due diligence in avoiding liability issues. We have all seen the huge legal fines for pharmaceutical cases in the papers. In order to avoid a potentially disastrous legal situation, it is critically important to uncover any contingent liabilities.
So take Gunning’s advice. With a good product, good people, good planning and a bit of hard work, your startup can succeed.
If you are interested in checking out past or attending future Meet the Author events, be sure to visit the Bioentrepreneur forum on the Nature Network for more information. And of course, you can check out many more articles like Gunning’s at the Bioentrepreneur website.