At BioBM, we interact with a lot of start-ups. Most often these start-ups consist of a team of scientists and / or engineers, sometimes with little to no start-up experience on the team. Marketing experience is often lacking entirely. Because of this, we run into the same problem over and over – young, ambitious companies who, knowingly or not, wager their success by putting action before strategy.
Having a great product or service is the #1 factor in a young company’s success. You’ll never catch me saying otherwise. However, a great product alone isn’t sufficient to be successful. By rushing to market without thinking strategically about anything other than product development and prior to having strategy-backed plans in place for marketing, sales / distribution, support, and a multitude of other factors is, plain and simple, a bad idea. You are very unlikely to hit your target if you’re shooting blind, regardless of how big your gun is.
Furthermore, there is often an assumption among scientists that their experience in the field makes them sufficiently knowledgeable about the needs of the marketplace that little to no outside information is necessary. While experience being a member of a market certainly conveys some knowledge about the broader marketplace, and if you were to ask one person to explain a market in great detail it would naturally be someone within that market, it should never be assumed that this knowledge is sufficiently accurate. Start-ups should never rely solely on their own opinions and views for the same reason that you would never want to do a market research study with only a small handful of individuals. Opinions and perceptions vary. Just like anyone else, scientists are perfectly capable of being biased by their own opinions. As the saying goes, the plural of anecdote is not data.
Companies would be far better served by doing their homework. The time and resources required to properly strategize and plan should be incorporated into the estimates of start-up costs (not to mention the costs of initial marketing campaigns, which are again frequently underestimated or overlooked by individuals with little or no functional expertise in marketing) and resourced appropriately. The product(s) may be the heart of your company, but a heart alone doesn’t sustain life. If you want to ensure that you’ll be successful, make sure you have all the other pieces in place before you rush to market.