As PhD students, we were trained to research, perform experimental procedures, analyse data and present our findings. We dream. We create. We invent. We solve problems. But most of us don’t sell. We don’t know how. It’s not what we were trained for. Having all the ideas and skills in our hands, it is such a shame that most scientists are unable to share their knowledge to the public and to potential investors. The science is great but nobody is going to fund a penny to science that they do not understand. We need to learn how to sell our ideas, our inventions and ourselves! So, let’s talk business! But…where do we start?
I was lucky enough to be invited to sit in one of the sessions of the Venture Dorm program. The program is run by the New Venture Institute (NVI) of Flinders University and was designed to help young entrepreneurs to transform their innovative ideas into startups in 12 weeks! The program is also supported by experienced mentors who are there to give guidance and invaluable advice; covering every important aspect that is key to successful business. It was hence very exciting for me to listen to over 10 new business ideas on their way breaking through to the real world. Also a great pleasure to meet few of the top-tiers mentors with expertise from marketing strategy (Orren Prunckun, Co-founder of Startup Adelaide), business-centred legal consulting (Adele Flego, Principle of Chilad Consulting) to business management (Darren Oemcke, Business partner of HydroCo Consulting).
To keep it simple, here’s a list of the top 10 things I’ve learn from just one session!
- Network! Network! Network! (No surprises here)
Meet like-minded people, people who are like you, full of passion and ideas and ready to take on the world! Introduce yourself to people who had already achieved your goal and pick their brains!
- Do your research! (If you’re a scientist, you can at least get this done right!)
It is important to do your research on what’s out there in the real-world? Is your idea novel? Perhaps someone has already done it but failed? Why did they fail? Can you overcome it? Is your idea really feasible?
- Advertising & Trade display
Promote your ideas! Talk to potential end-users. Excite them with your new ideas and gather feedbacks. Better yet if you’ve already designed and built a prototype and show it off at NVP exhibition!
- Identify market demands
Identify your piece of the pie. What are your niches? How big is the demand? Can you expand it? And most importantly, how do you create your own market?? (After all, that’s what innovation is about – creating new market)
- Exploring new customer segments
Don’t limit yourself to a small customer base. Explore different customer segments by asking the right questions. Keep looking until someone says “YES!”.
- “A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Every successful project starts with an intensive and careful planning. Plan every single step you need to take in order to achieve to your goal.
Identify the resources required, may it be the initial capital investment , time, space or partners that can help get your idea off the ground.
- Find your Mr./Mrs. Right Business Partner
It is important that you collaborate with the people that you enjoy working with because chances are you will see them more often than your parents! Partner with someone that not only has the right skill for the business but also share the same value.
- Time is ticking! Tick-Tock-Tick-Tock….
Get your product out in the market ASAP! You do not want to lose the competition simply because you are late into the market.
- Be confident!
Finally, have confidence in your innovation!
As an amateur (in fact an outsider) of the business world, what I’ve written is by no means an advice to anyone, but merely a personal reflection. It is such an eye-opening experience to join the Venture Dorm and observe how young entrepreneurs strive to achieve their goals.
Special thanks to Ashleigh Keane (NVI Marketing Manager) for the invitation to this new experience!
“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” – Dr. Marie Curie
NVI Student Brand Ambassador