Are new ventures constantly in chaos? Is there a method to the madness? Yes, successful startups do have an entrepreneurial process at their heart. Founders systematically track and explore market opportunities. Moreover, they seek funds and resources, persuade others to join the venture, and pursue customers and partners from day 1. It is this latter aspect – business development – that I covered in a 2021 talk for deep-tech startups. The BIRAC Regional Bioinnovation Center, NCL Innovation Park, Pune hosted this event.Business-Development-for-Science-Startups
For ventures that commercialize a technology innovation, the notion of crossing multiple chasms is quite relevant. Clearly, entrepreneurs must have the right context for how long it can take to reach commercial maturity. More importantly, the non-linear nature of revenue traction often confuses first-time founders who expect linear growth in their customer base.
Thus, crossing the PoC, prototype, pilot, and production chasms is an integral part of the entrepreneurial process. Each stage marks a quantum jump in the maturity of the venture and its valuation.
Entrepreneurial Business Development
The nature of early-stage ventures requires an innovative approach not only to technology development but sales and marketing as well. More broadly, business development strategy has to be adapted to deal with market uncertainty, capital availability, and limited human resources. Entrepreneurs who seek to commercialize research have the benefit of being able to structure a wide variety of commercial deals. However, this requires significant investment in market analysis and legal contracts. Additionally, the sales and marketing collateral has to be re-created for each route of monetization.
Thus, an entrepreneurial mindset is a must for the BD team, which must employ digital marketing and consultative selling techniques. They have to establish technical credibility and persuade large companies to engage with a small venture whose products are still under development. Finally, the BD leadership must learn to employ entrepreneurial traits such as hustle, grit, and persistence in their customer-facing activities.