How does anyone choose an idea for a business or a career? In my case, the idea chose me. It might sound better to say that I went through a detailed business model building process coupled with critical analytics and metrics, but I didn’t.
When I started ABS, I had already spent over 15 years working as a research scientist. There was always the frustration of spending all day preparing membranes for experiments, waiting weeks for cells to grow, trying to acquire human tissue samples so see if work in rodents or cells applied to human biochemistry, etc. This biological preparatory work was very important. It had to be done right, or your experiments were worthless, but these activities took a lot of time and a lot effort before research could even begin. In fact, most of the time in the lab was filled with non-experimental preparatory work.
Pharmaceutical and biotechnology scientists are faced with tight timelines, too many meetings, and not enough resources do the science. There was no doubt in my mind that most scientists were experiencing the same frustrations, but at the time there were very few or no alternatives.
This is how the idea chose me. Who wouldn’t want to succeed in their work more quickly and easily? Working with a company focused every day on doing this biological prep work should make the entire process more reliable. It was obvious, and I knew that it would have a positive impact on scientific research. Whatever business or scientific goal you may choose to pursue should fulfill a clear unmet need.
When I started ABS, I looked at laboratory tasks that most scientists were doing every day in pharmaceutical and biotech companies around the world. These tasks were and are the critical preparations upon which the higher value research and discovery are based. We began by supplying membrane preparations for receptor binding assays from rat tissues and later human tissue samples. This meant establishing a network of hospitals from which to acquire human tissues. Then, we established a cell culture laboratory to supply cells and cell membrane preparations.
Eventually, we were able to supply virtually any biological material for research from human biospecimens to massive quantities of cells and biological reagents made from those materials such as membrane preparations, RNA, DNA, and proteins. Other services were also added to QC and analyze biological materials, such as RT-qPCR, IHC, Mycoplasma detection, and many more. All of this was done so that we could provide the best biological research reagents possible.
Whatever new service we chose to add grew from focus on helping our clients accomplish more. You must be clear about your focus. If you are successful, it is likely that you will have many opportunities and it important to maintain your focus rather than diluting your efforts. As Steve Jobs said “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there.”
The work of supplying biological research materials centers around the goals of making research faster, easier, and more reliable for scientists and their organizations. ABS removes the frustrations and lessen the time constraints that I experienced as a scientist so that you can do the real work of discovery.
There is clearly a place for market analysis, strategic plans, and building business models. In subsequent blogs, I will discuss these factors and their importance in the business process. However, I would also argue that one must feel in their gut that there is a need for what they propose to do. This creates purpose and passion that no analytics can sustain. It would be foolish not subject your idea to critical analysis, seek advice, and study financial projections; but, most importantly, the work should have meaning for you.
The next blogs will describe Day One of a business and the path from sitting alone in a room with a pile of lab supplies in boxes to growing a multi-dollar business. Along the way, managing laboratories, finances, strategy, marketing, etc. will be discussed and useful references will be provided.