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How to Become a Science Entrepreneur

If you’re a scientist with a great idea that you can sell, read on. Your inner entrepreneur will appreciate these six tips on becoming a science entrepreneur. Let’s take a closer look.

Jun 19, 2017
  • Student Tips
How to Become a Science Entrepreneur

Got an idea? Then chances are, you have a business, too.

What is a science entrepreneur? A scientist who launches a company.

If you’ve got a great idea, like Ana Maiques and her husband Giulio Ruffini, Spanish scientists who believed that their neuroelectric device could help patients with brain activity, then follow in their footsteps. They started their own company. Their company, now called Neuroelectrics, has customers from Harvard and MIT, who use their product to help understand brain function.

Interested? Take a look at these six ways to become a science entrepreneur.

Creative scientist at work

1. Ask yourself: Are you the first?

Bottom line: protect your IP. What’s that? Intellectual property. You need to be early and the best at what you do to make it. Be careful about what you publish in your research—and do your homework. If you have a great idea, get a patent, and take it from there. Why? You’re going to need funding—and that comes from venture capitalists who want to ensure that they’re on the cutting edge. Just like you.

Cheerful good looking men having a conversation

2. Don’t do it alone.

Running all aspects of your business isn’t sustainable.

Trust your partners and work together—and if you can’t do that, then you shouldn’t be working with them.

Be true to your academic self—and trust those with whom you work on the business end of things. You can be involved in all aspects—just know that when you need to delegate, you have people on whom you can rely and trust.

Men looking at grapes in vineyard

3. Get help from mentors and experts.

When it comes to market share and business expenses, you might have no idea.

Your business proposal will be stronger if you get experts and mentors to weigh in.

Your takeaway? Get a peer review of your business plan—you might just get the insight you need. Talk to folks who fund startups, network with a venture capital firm. Don’t know where to start? Try your department—and read lots of trade magazines and find a niche for your product. You’ll be able to expand your reach—and broaden your possibilities.

Young  female chemical technician noting measuring data on modern device in laboratory

4. Make sure you have the right data.

Think you’re ready for your first sales pitch? That preliminary data should be spot on. If it’s not, don’t bother.

It’s not just feasibility and market testing—it’s data that demonstrates the likelihood of a project’s success.

What’s the most convincing data? Customer data. Get lots of it—and make sure it’s positive.

Experiments in a chemistry lab. The explosion in the laboratory.

5. Be willing to fail—and beat the odds.

In the US, there’s a pretty high failure rate for scientific start-ups—about 75 percent.

While that’s not quite the encouragement you want, take heart: try it anyway. If your idea is a good one, it’s worth a go. Why? Failure is good. It will make your product—and your data (see #4) that much stronger and that much more competitive on your next go-round.

If you have the time and the resources, go for it. A good idea is a good idea—and it will sell. You’ll figure it out - you're a scientist.


6. Learn how to talk about your project.

The best way to sell something? Word of mouth. Not canned. You need to learn how to talk to people about your project and get them interested.

What do you need to do? Tell your story—not your grant narrative—but the story of your idea and why it’s a good one. What’s your vision? How will you achieve it? How will you make money? What’s your plan?

Startup funders don’t want minutae—they want a sense of your confidence in your project and that you have the resources to back up what you say. They want to know your vision, what you think, and why they should invest in your project.

Inspired? You should be - you’ve the got the idea, right? Now go start that business.

Learn more about entrepreneurship.