The pathway to commercialization – and time to cash – is shorter for IT Apps than it is for ventures in the engineering and biopharma space. Are you using your longer commercialization runway as an excuse for avoiding customer discovery conversations?
You may be trying to solve the right problem by asking the wrong questions.
Take a page out of the tech startup folks’ commercialization book. If you want to determine whether your App will have marketplace traction, talk with your customers. Constantly. Daily. Socially. Yup, socially, even for manufacturing and biopharma.
It’s all about your “N.”
What is your “n” ? You know, the “n”umber of folks you’ve spoken with about your idea. These are the folks who will define the ecosystem in which your venture must survive and thrive. Have you engaged them, lots of them, in determining your customers – not just the market – for your venture? Those Apps developers have, so that their products are exquisitely positioned for their customers.
Gaining a solid understanding of industry and marketplace remains one of the biggest gaps in business plans – and pitches – for the startups I work with.
Who is going to utilize what you are commercializing? It’s not up to the folks who acquire your startup or license your technology to figure out the answer to that question. You won’t get that far down the road if you and your team are unable to articulate why your venture is exquisitely suited for not only today’s market space, but the market space 3-5 years down the road, 6-10 years down the road, 11-15 years down the road.
That’s how long it’s going to take to fully commercialize your idea towards your final exit. These are the Milestone funding phases that investors will be bouncing around in their heads as they listen to you pitch.
How many customers have told you that they require the solution that your biopharma or engineering startup is working on – right NOW? That’s what potential funders are wondering about when they read your business plan, let alone listen to your pitch. Are you able to answer that question based on your “n”?
How large is your current “N”?
- How many providers, hospital systems, manufacturing tiers, channel partners, have you spoken with thusfar?
- How deep were your discovery conversations?
- How many times did you re-approach these folks to garner their insights as you moved your venture further down its development pathway?
Your biopharma or engineering startup may not be another IT App. However, the number of customers you speak to has to be at least one order of magnitude larger than it is right now. Because your biopharma or engineering venture is the App for providers, practitioners, engineers, and systems. Your venture will be APPlied into delivery of their services.
Take your commercialization lead from the IT startup folks. Build up the “n” for your App. It’s not up to anyone else but you. Your “n” will make the difference in whether your biopharma or engineering venture is funded, or not.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She works with non-traditional sellers, engineers, manufacturers, and technical startups.