This past Wednesday, I attended an event that was started by a new group here in Chicago called Startup Devils. It was founded by two Fuqua alums as a way to get the Duke University entrepreneurial community in Chicago together. They actually host 8-10 startup events in Chicago each year, so I decided to sign up for their newsletter and this was the first event that I was able to go to. The organizers of the event invited two entrepreneurs in the Life Sciences space who had discovered and marketed new drug therapies. The event consisted of a panel where each of the entrepreneurs discussed their experiences in the life sciences industry. I actually found it very interesting, since my background is focused more in the healthcare space.
The biggest takeaway I learned from the event was to take advantage of the provisional patent application if you ever get a great idea and don’t want to spend a lot of money to go through the full IP process. For about $40 you can get a provisional patent application that will protect your idea for a year. For most people who are just starting up, this is usually enough time for you to go around and speak to companies and investors who might be interested in your idea. So if you’re a small business owner and inventor, it’s worth looking into in order to take advantage of it. The other key takeaway was that if you’re looking to sell your business to another company, often times it’s important to consider if your idea or company will become a major product for the acquiror or if it will end up being buried under the company’s other focus areas. For example, think of drugs that are bought by a company like Pfizer vs. Salix. Often the smaller drugs that are purchased by Pfizer don’t get all the attention they need, whereas the drugs might be the major product or focus area for a company like Salix. So it’s not necessarily always best to sell your company to the biggest strategic company offering to pay the most money for your product or idea because it might end up getting overlooked within the larger company, and instead might take off and become very successful within a smaller player in the industry.