Advice for Scientist Entrepreneurs

Stirring Public Interest

Written by Tamsen Valoir, PhD for Gaebler Ventures

Promoting your science before you commercialize can smooth the road to funding...but there are a few mistakes you can make if you are not careful.

Public interest in your company can be very valuable.

Stirring Public Interest

If investors have HEARD of the company, they will be more receptive to a pitch and possible investment.

One way to generate public interest is to publish early and often in many different venues, ranging from peer reviewed journals to magazines and newspapers to shameless advertising.

Of course, if you are still employed at an academic institution, the Technology Transfer Office will serve a managerial role, and all patent disclosures, publications, collaborations and negotiations MUST be handled through that office.

Since most foreign countries don't allow patent protection once an invention is disclosed, all publications should be cleared at your monthly patent meetings BEFORE being shared with anyone outside the company.

This includes grant proposals, which become publicly available on grant unless "Confidential Proprietary Information" is marked on each page.

Once published, post copies of every publication on the company website so that colleagues and investors can easily refer to and cite the work. Good public speakers inside the company should accept every public speaking opportunity that arises at a variety of venues including scientific, technology incubator and investor meetings.

Founders and the CEO should prepare and hone an "elevator pitch"—a 90 second speech that tells a potential investor what the technology is, what the market potential is, what the current status of the company is and how much investment is needed for the next step. The founders and CEO will give this pitch hundreds of times as they seek investors.

More Tips for Scientist Entrepreneurs

To learn more about how to bring a product out of the laboratory and transition from the role of scientist to that of entrepreneur, please browse the rest of the tips for science entrepreneurs in this article series:

  • Transitioning from Science to Sale - We introduce our 10 tips for entrepreneurial scientists who want to take their science to market.
  • 1. Getting it in Writing - Before you get too far along in the process, it's imperative that you put together written contracts that define ownership rights, confidentiality and other important obligations and understandings.
  • 2. Cultivating A Culture of Invention - Encouraging invention is the first step to creating valuable intellectual property. We look at what organizations must do in order to motivate employees to create proprietary science and apply for patents.
  • 3. Getting Inventorship Right - Patent laws require that you get inventorship right. Get it wrong and you can lose the patent. Here are some simple ways to avoid making a mistake in the naming of inventors.
  • 4. Using Hardbound Notebooks - Your lab notebook could end up being used as evidence to invalidate your patent claim. We discuss the proper use of hardbound lab notebooks to ensure proper IP protection.
  • 5. Planning a Patent Strategy - Filing patents can be an intimidating endeavor, but there are some best practices for scientist entrepreneurs that you ought to know about.
  • 6. Planning an FDA Strategy - Knowing these tips for getting FDA approval will come in handy if you are working on new drugs or medical devices.
  • 7. Loosening the Reins - You can't do it all. Scientists entrepreneurs must know when to transition leadership and when it's time to bring in the pros.
  • 8. Stirring Public Interest - Promoting your science before you commercialize can smooth the road to funding...but there are a few mistakes you can make if you are not careful.
  • 9. Financing the Company - It takes money to make money. Here are a few things to know about the funding process.
  • 10. Preparing for Due Diligence - Due diligence involves intense scrutiny of all of your documents. It's critical to keep your documents well-organized and readily accessible.

Tamsen Valoir, PhD is a partner in the Houston office of Baker & McKenzie, LLP. She has a JD and LLM in Intellectual Property, a doctorate in molecular biology from Rice University, and her practice is primarily in intellectual property in the life sciences. As a leading Houston patent attorney, she can assist scientists with patent preparation and prosecution, opinion writing, IP due diligence and licensing in the life sciences. She can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at (713) 427-5007.

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