You’ll never do your best work alone in the world of innovation— the best projects include a strong team of people in various roles to support the innovation’s journey toward commercialization. In order to bring a new product or service to the market, you need a good plan and a great team.
Who do you need on your team?
The most successful projects will need someone who will become the first CEO. Ideally, the business lead would be a potential candidate for the 1st CEO of the start-up company. An ideal business lead has training and practical experience directly related to the project’s specific industry. Absent direct experience, a project lead may have a firm understanding of general financial and marketing concepts necessary to lead the team in completing the business model canvas (which is a robust, hypothesis-driven outline of a business plan).
A key quality of a business lead is the ability to recognize and acknowledge customer feedback and the willingness to adjust the project technology or strategy to meet actual market needs based upon customer interactions. There is nothing about this work that would preclude an academic or technologist with some business experience from acting as a business lead. However, we have found that scientists are not typically successful as business leads for their own technical innovations.
D2P can help you identify and select a strong business lead for your project.
Often, technical leads are principal investigators, faculty, staff, or researchers who have discovered or created a new technology and are seeking to commercialize that innovation through the marketplace. Technical leads are responsible for the development and management of the business from a technical feasibility standpoint. Many of D2P’s technical leads have been leaders in their particular field of research. However, technical leads can be anyone – students, faculty, or staff – who has the ability to manage technological development within a project or start-up company.
Projects supported by research grants include a Principal Investigator, or PI. Academic researchers provide the technical vision to guide a new company’s initial research and development. They are integrally involved in multiple aspects of building a business, including: development and writing a business plan; recruiting an individual to lead the business side of the company; making presentations to potential investors; and hiring initial scientific staff. These activities require a large time commitment. A chief executive officer (CEO) may handle the majority of the early work of building the company, but inevitably the researchers will be pulled into the process. It is important to note that one of the measures used by potential partners and investors in assessing their interest in working with a new venture is the amount of time that the academic founders devote to the endeavor.
D2P relies on mentors, both external and internal, to assist with the commercialization process. Mentors are talented individuals with significant experience and expertise in specific industry segments and in entrepreneurism. D2P welcomes external mentors who are interested in taking an advisory role in one or more projects, applying their specialized knowledge toward the successful creation of a start-up. D2P’s internal mentors, Innovation and Commercialization Specialists, are also available to assist all of the projects. Like their external counterparts, they are extremely experienced and successful experts dedicated to aiding in the development of business models for D2P’s projects.