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Researchers Entrepreneurship: a dangerous game?


For those willing to take risks, ready to transfer the research, laboratory technology, as an entrepreneurs, to provide technology products for the uncertain market, the challenges of the transition process should not be overlooked. Entrepreneurial process is like playing video games, do the right product, which means you may get qualified for the next level of the game.

"Public entrepreneurship, the highly innovative" like a powerful catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship are the birth land of China's fashion catwalks and technology start-ups are the focus. To this end , from the central and local governments have introduced a number of policies , such as Beijing , " Beijing school ten" Hubei "technology ten" Zhejiang " gold twelve ," etc., in the ownership of intellectual property , financial and other resources to support these policies , taxation , personnel motivation , human relations , have made a series of favorable entrepreneurial system security researchers . Therefore, many of the original quiet stay universities and research institutes laboratory scientists around the corner, there are some who have already rolled up their sleeves to start a business it!

Previously, I often heard some people say that China's policy to encourage scientific and technological personnel entrepreneurship is not good enough. By now, it can be said at all levels of Chinese government policies to encourage scientific and technological personnel entrepreneurship is the world's best. Take the United States, for pioneering scientific and technical personnel have incentives, only one national laws and two state plan, the law is the Bayh-Dole Act (The Bayh-Dole Act) 1980 the US Congress passed. Prior to 1980, the US government-funded research done belongs to the state , the bill would all state-funded universities and other research institutions to research and intellectual property ownership of the automatic mechanism .

American has two programs to encourage technology start-ups , one is " Small Business Innovation Research funds " (Small Business Innovation Research grant, SBIR), the program is coordinated by the US Government Small Business Administration , supported by a number of government departments , specialized financing small enterprises participating technological innovation research in the 1970s by the National Science Foundation (NSF) first introduced , the purpose is to address the small enterprises in the fight for research funding are often in disadvantaged problems. After initial success, the US government in 1982, the scheme to other institutions. Currently, the US funded SBIR program in a technical feasibility study of the second phase of the research funded commercial technology. Another program is "Small Business Technology Transfer Program " (Small Business Technology Transfer Program, STTR), the plan is to solve the market failure Cooperative and design, is characterized by small businesses and universities and research institutions to cooperate in order to build a bridge between basic research and innovation commercialization between .

American University is how to take advantage of this bill and the related agenda? Scientific and technological innovation and entrepreneurship at Stanford University in Silicon Valley doing the best example, the university in 1970 on the establishment of a technology transfer office (Office of Technology Licensing), whose mission is to create school teachers available for technology transfer to industry. However, in the early years, because the intellectual property rights belong to the State, each transfer requires government approval, the program is very troublesome, it is very limited achievement. That is why, Stanford University has become an important force to promote the Bayh-Dole Act. After the bill passed, the school has the full right, power and freedom to decide fate and distribution-related intellectual property rights. For the latter has been successfully licensed to gain intellectual property of the business community, the current approach is probably Stanford minus expenses generated during the transfer of technological property rights, schools, colleges and inventors will each receive 1/3. For Professor entrepreneurship, the school has strict rules, only teachers on holiday (Sabbatical year) can conduct business activities in the normal work year, the teacher cannot be allowed in school full-time, part-time and off-campus (including the participation of business) of the total cumulative time cannot exceed 20% of the total working time.

In fact, Stanford University as a world example of innovation and entrepreneurship, the main business activities and achievements from its students, such as Yahoo, Google, Sun Microsystems and other masterpieces are students. Teachers resignation of successful entrepreneurship, there are some cases (such as Cisco was founded by Stanford University network management center staff), but very little. Teachers mainly through the school's Office of Technology Transfer to transfer out of their own invention, or guidance and investment through student participation in entrepreneurship and start-up companies to share success.

However, even the best policy can only provide basic initial conditions of entrepreneurship, not improve and guarantee the success rate of entrepreneurship. We know that entrepreneurs need a strong and comprehensive skills, such as knowledge of the market and the opportunities and judgment, grasp of customer needs, financing and management capabilities. We can say that for the vast majority of scientific researchers, these are not their strong point, if hastily put in, the road is full of pitfalls. Therefore, if the government's policy with generous temptation to the wrong people start, the unit is also blind, "the spot ", the result can only be a waste of taxpayers' money, but also destroyed some of the original can be made on the research achievements of people.

For those willing to take risks, ready to start the research staff, laboratory technology from a creator to the uncertain market technology products entrepreneur, this transition process challenges to be overlooked. Pioneering research has a great misunderstanding is always thought he was very good at doing product, the opposite is true, no business experience, technical personnel will not make product! Especially senior researchers in science and technology research and development, although there are a lot of experience, but these experiences for the development of commercial technologies product completely useless. Because researchers are mostly on their own experience in financing, marketing and other aspects of the lack of self-knowledge, usually found to have the right skills to make the team, so the main reason for the high failure rate is to do bad product, and the product is technology start-ups must do themselves, others difficult to replace.

So, what is the right way to make the product do? Let me introduce a recently popular in Silicon Valley, "Lean Startup" method (refer to Eric Ries book "Lean Startup" a book), this method is good at doing experimental science and technology entrepreneurs who are more suitable.

First find the right market for the technology. A laboratory technique may be applied to multiple markets of different products, such as an X-ray technology, both for use in medical devices may also be used for industrial inspection, also can be used for research laboratories. While the core technology is similar, but each market products may be completely different. You should choose which market? If you read the business directory, you will get a lot of methods, such as analysis of market size, competition situation, there is no outlet (window of opportunity) and the like. I think the most important factor is the factor of self-entrepreneurs, that is, you can choose several markets, which in the end you are most likely to enter the market. Avoid commercial products do behind closed doors, so before the product has not yet formed, the key is to find some willing to help you do a good job of leading product user, then let these lead users to take you into their markets.

The next challenge is to make the product. From a core technology to meet the needs of users of the products are very far away, entrepreneur first need a basic understanding of what the specific needs of users in the end, some people use a competitor's product as a starting point, and then to develop a " minimum viable product" (Minimum viable product), which can be a product model can also be used PPT design specifications, and then went ahead and your users discuss it. They will tell you what features are necessary and what is superfluous; what indicators meaningful, what exactly is not necessary. Then you rapid improvement based on customer feedback , a new version of the "minimum viable product " and then go back and lead users to discuss , get feedback on new ...... so on ad infinitum to experiment until you completely satisfied with the product .

Some companies use the domestic IT industry is that the involvement of the customer, rapid iterative product development model. Some people think that this is very difficult to launch a "revolutionary" "disruptive "products, maybe there is some truth. In fact, a lot of people complaining about the "subversive innovation," very few people really can do, human innovation today, the vast majority are also improved the micro-innovation. Therefore, this article is no entrepreneurial experience to provide a scientific and technical personnel to do to get started micro-innovation products, intended for individual products in the huge innovative technology personnel, we recommend reading Peter Teal book "from 0-1 ".

Furthermore, do market experiment. Science and technology experiments were completed in a controlled laboratory, while the market test is a social experiment is difficult to control, like big Jiang Da Hai. Researchers still can start from their own familiar "experimental hypothesis," First, assume that this "value hypothesis," the second is "growth assumptions." The so-called "value if" is what customers want most value from the product. For example, assume that the value of millet phone users not only cost-effective products like also very happy to participate in the company's operations, while the value of Apple's phone is their assumption that customers like the best products. Different value assumptions that could attract a completely different clientele. To do this, you need to find the target user group, to sell to them, to test the value of your assumptions are appropriate. Remember, only the "point like" user without pay, not really customers, we can say the business world do not pay tribute to all hypocrites. Also, reluctantly bought your product instead of customer's products and services that you have no value to users. Therefore, if the customer is willing to pay to buy your product or buy a few do not, we must find out why, sense back to reposition the product, modify the value assumptions.

The so-called "growth assumptions ", referring to the time the product is almost done, and how to make the product spread on the market, in order to achieve revenue growth assumptions. Traditional advertising market grew by one to let others know your product , and sales channel or its own sales force to promote their products , these traditional marketing methods and high cost , increased sales and marketing expenses are generally proportional to the product enter , you need marketing investment assumption , rational as $ 500 dollars into the commodities market rate of return , if the return on marketing investment is too low, you want to find out the reason immediately , then make the appropriate corrections.

If the product is particularly favored customers, may produce two new effect, the first is a lot of repeat customers, and the second is the customer who in their circle of friends for you free advertising (that word of mouth) in order to attract more customers, then congratulations you, the nonlinear growth of your company started. Conversely, if the product does not do well, income is not as sell products to drop into the marketing costs, there is no repeat customers and word of mouth, so the experiment failed. In this case, please do not stubborn, back to square one: repositioning market and products!

Entrepreneurial process is like playing video games, do the right product, it means you get qualified for the next level of the game. Of scientific and technical personnel born entrepreneurs, the next game is undoubtedly more familiar with, and more intense and exciting. However, entrepreneurship is a highly dangerous game out rate, a pit road followed a pit, and each pit is dangerous, weak and hapless constantly being kicked out. Are you ready to jump to the pit?

Souce: Novopro    2015-07-15