A key component of success when turning a project into a start-up company is the team’s “business lead”. If you are project in need of such a team member, or a potential business lead that is on the look-out for new and exciting projects, please read below.
An ideal business lead for a D2P project would possess actual training and practical experience directly related to the project’s specific industry. Absent direct experience, a project lead must have, at a minimum, 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). Business Lead candidates must also be available and willing to commit significant time to the project and toward the completion of the aforementioned business model canvas. During the five-week workshop, attendance will be required. While the entire project team is not required to attend (though this would be advantageous for the team), each team must dedicate an individual member to represent the project during each Tuesday morning workshop. The attending team member will also be required to devote time outside of the workshops to guide the rest of the project team through the business issues and to help translate technical issues into business issues.
Following the five-week workshop, focused on value proposition and product/market fit, the business lead will receive instruction regarding the completion of the remainder of the business model canvas and will be expected to lead the team through the project’s overall business development.
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.
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, as this would be a good test / on boarding opportunity for them.