Six tips for launching a science or medical startup
There are multiple ways to start a business, but when it comes to medical technology, you’ll need to take a specific approach.
Strict legal guidelines, limited capital, and technical risks are more difficult for startups in your industry to overcome, but they aren’t impossible without a plan.
As a business founder, you need a lot of resilience to succeed. But, it’ll pay off in the end when your knowledge leads to scientific discoveries in the health sector that improve others’ lives.
How to launch a successful science or medical startup
Your science or medical business will need some direction to get started, but you’ll need to do the work to thrive. Here are some helpful tips you can use to launch your startup right away.
1) Use the tight tools and technology
Investing in tech for your startup is a smart choice. By adding telehealth, virtual reality tools, ePrescription systems, and automation, you can improve the quality of your services. However, if you’re using your own lab to test your medicines, try an electronic laboratory notebook (ELN).
ELN features you’ll need for your medical startup include project management, document and experiment preservation, inventory management, and more. Even if you aren’t building your own lab, ELNs are still useful for storing analytic data and the shelf life of your supplies.
2) User experience is very important
When creating tools or medicines to sell at your startup, always consider the potential customer’s point of view. Your device could solve several urgent medical or scientific problems, but if the product is complicated to use, no one will support it. Remember: you’re a business.
Without profit, your business won’t last long, so focus on the marketing side of your project before its utility. It sounds strange to do this in an industry that saves lives, but you aren’t selling to scientists. Your product has to serve a diverse range of stakeholders to be marketable.
3) Start funding your startup early
FInancing your science or medical startup is going to take much longer than the average business. Investors have to be okay with not seeing your product until it reaches the prototype stage, and even then, their investment could fall through once laboratory tests begin.
However, you’ll need funding to get a prototype, so you’ll need to make a case to lenders that your product is necessary. Conduct market research on your product and speak to a lawyer who can create a funding proposal. If you can’t afford a lawyer, you can write a proposal yourself.
4) Assemble a team of business experts
Let’s face it, most scientists don’t know how to create or sustain a business, and that’s okay. Not everyone is good at everything, but you can find experts who can fill in your knowledge gaps. A diverse team is essential, so ask yourself, have you hired enough experts to sell your products?
If not, start onboarding employees from outside your expertise. You’ll need financial officers, marketing professionals, lawyers (for patents), product managers, sales managers, business development managers, customer service representatives, and possibly more for your startup.
5) Don’t forget about legal compliance
The medical industry is rife with laws and compliance issues that protect its customers. There’s no doubt that the law has utility, but it can make your life difficult. What’s true today may not be true tomorrow, so you need to keep up with regulations that may impact your business.
In America, the regulations you must follow include but aren’t limited to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, HIPAA and HITECH Acts, the Anti-Kickback Statute, and Stark Law. Startups can use compliance software to cover most of their needs, even when they scale.
6) Find an accelerator program in your field
Most startups don’t have access to industry experts. They may not even have the cash flow to hire employees. If you looked at our tips above and thought, “there’s no way I can do that,” then an accelerator program may be what you need, as long as it’s focused on your medical field.
An accelerator program is a short-term growth program that helps you expand in a few years. They offer seed funding, private work time, training, networking, and product pitch days. Organizations like TechStars and Dreamt have helped thousands of startups succeed.
Photo by Jenny Ueberberg