By Shaoyu Chang, MD, MPH, Senior Research Analyst, LSN
There’s no shortage of competitions for life science entrepreneurs to enter. Whether it is a grant submission on a website, a display in an exhibition hall, or a 10-minute pitch on stage, there will be opportunities to use your branding and messaging collateral to reach an audience. However, it takes a well-organized package of information to win access to these opportunities.
While screening applicants to the RESI Innovation Challenge, I’ve observed that many companies make similar mistakes. In this article, I’d like to offer some tips for making the most of these opportunities while avoiding common pitfalls.
Explain science in simple, clear language
What factors will make your new product stand out from other “exciting one-of-a-kind therapies”? Entrepreneurs may have the most cutting-edge, complex technology, but many of them fail to describe their science in plain, understandable English. You description should be clear and concise while providing your unique value proposition. Do not be afraid to take a deeper dive in the mechanism behind your invention, what cellular pathway does your compound affect? How does your device work on the target organ? Remember how you deliver your message and explain what you do shows how what a good investment candidate you are.
Instead of making a nonspecific claim, such as “our device has convincing validation,” applicants can make a stronger case by providing supporting facts, such as “our non-invasive device can measure blood pressure within ±3 mmHg error margin” or “data from our small mammal studies has been published in peer-reviewed journals.” Keeping in mind, there should be a balance between being specific and being overwhelmingly technical. It is not easy to fit your full scientific discovery story into the 500-word limit; however that is precisely the challenge you face when you enter the sales and marketing domain and want to raise capital.
Stand out from the crowd
In the early stage life science investment world, many potential scientific breakthroughs are competing for the same pool of funding. It’s important to put yourself in the investor’s position and think about the factors that make your company a unique opportunity to deploy capital.
What factors will make your new product stand out among 20 other “exciting one-of-a-kind therapies”? It could be that the product serves a large patient base with a significant unmet medical need. Or perhaps it’s a solution for a niche population that would qualify for orphan status and potentially accelerate your path to market. Other factors that LSN has seen raised by strong contenders in the RESI Innovation Challenge include good patent coverage, cost-saving propositions for healthcare providers, and the potential to save the lives of patients in need. Be sure to state the reasons why your opportunity is outstanding.
Explain the timeline to market
Many entrepreneurs fail to provide a detailed, realistic development timeline. This is a critical element as investors use it to assess entrepreneurs’ understanding of the R&D process in their technology sector and their ability to allocate funding properly.
Highlight your business successes
When providing management team bios, most scientist-entrepreneurs have little difficulty in describing academic credentials, from faculty positions to publication records. However, applicants often neglect the business aspect. Investors want to see a team that is able to work together, negotiate with external partners and next-round investors, and bring the product through the regulatory process. Entrepreneurs should highlight expertise in such areas or set up plans to recruit these experts.
Similarly, collaborative relationships with prestigious research centers, pharmaceutical corporations, or strategic partners act as indicators of endorsement and validation. Don’t forget to highlight these markers of your business acumen.
Make sure your marketing collateral is clear and available
Furthermore, our scientific team looks at the clarity of the application material and also the availability of supporting publications, including on your company’s website, because these materials reflect the overall quality of an entrepreneur’s presentation. Many investors in the life sciences sector are well versed in the industry, and have extensive background knowledge and research skills. A company unable to provide supporting materials online is at risk of being screened out by an investor in the initial stages of the investment process.
Past winners of the RESI Innovation Challenge have demonstrated that a good branding and messaging strategy not only helps entrepreneurs excel in start-up competitions, but also opens doors to partnerships and investments critical to their businesses. If you are interested in showcasing your innovation at RESI, please submit your application here.