Starting your own company out of university is a tricky business. You tend to have other things on your mind — like getting your degree. Here are some practical tips for university students who want to commercialise their technology.
Entrepreneurship isn’t about “freedom”, “lifestyle” or “being your own boss”. Entrepreneurship is about creating wealth quickly.
The two business types use intellectual property very differently. Traditional start-ups use intellectual property to protect their business and Mark’s problem is spot on. It takes millions of dollars to fund effective patent litigation and start-ups don’t have that kind of money. University spin-offs on the other hand don’t just protect their business with patents, patents are their business.
The internet offers a lot of advice for start-ups — some good, a lot of it bad. In fact, giving advice has become a profitable industry all by itself with the inevitable impact on quantity and quality. Much of the good advice is focused on Web2.0 start-ups and often a bit inappropriate when you are a university inventor looking to spin out a venture. Rather than repeating all the general guidelines for successful entrepreneurship, I want to highlight some of these differences and introduce a university founder perspective.
Titles are always tricky, but particularly dangerous in the startup environment. It’s the much more pedestrian titles that create equal if not bigger problems (e.g. “Engineer”, “Manager”, “Director”, Vice President”, “CxO”, etc.). Their danger comes in two forms:
There have been mixed reactions to the new America Invents Act. While the bill may be far from perfect, some of the concerns U.S. universities have had over the change to a First-to-File system are overstated in my opinion. Some are claiming that the conversion from First-to-Invent to First-to-File will greatly hurt individual and academic inventors who don’t have the resources to file patents as quickly as large companies. While that’s true, I think it misses a key element of technology transfer.
Invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship are words frequently thrown around by politicians, theorists, and entrepreneurs alike to generally describe the act of bringing a product or idea into the world. While easy to confuse, each concept is distinct and requires specific skills. When it’s time to choose the right people for your startup, these distinctions are critical.
Thus far in this Venture Capital series, we have covered the fundamental three “P’s” of building a technology venture: people, product, and pesos. But the last often comes with a bit more paperwork than the first two. In this article, we will look at common structures for venture capital deals, the motivations of the players involved in venture funding, and some of the pitfalls that could destroy your company (or your stake in it) if you are not careful.
It’s time to talk about the end. In previous articles, we discussed assembling a team, building a technology business, and financing it with investment capital. That’s the fun part of entrepreneurship, but inevitably your venture needs to grow up. To do so, it needs to exit the start-up phase behind and, more likely than not, deliver an economic return for its stakeholders. In this article, we will talk about the concept of an exit, methods of achieving it, and the motivations of players involved in the process.