How to join the young scientists taking over the startup world

How to join the young scientists taking over the startup world

All manner of university graduates, whether they studied English literature or financial law, are turning their backs on traditional career paths in favour of striking it out on their own.

With the job market in seemingly permanent disarray, we all want to skip our nine-to-five office slavery and head straight to being in charge of our own unicorn startup.

The life sciences class of 2017 is no exception, with young, graduate-led biotech companies amongst the most successful out there.

The new career path for life science graduates

It’s fairly surprising news for an industry that, up until now, existed of fairly rigid career paths.

Most life sciences graduates followed the same steps, a PhD followed by postdoctoral research and grants, all in expectation of not seeing any real success until they reached their 40s (if they were lucky).

Now, increased interest in biotech from venture capitalist firms has seen many people head straight from university to the boardroom of their own businesses.

And the future is looking bright for science startups, with young companies like Denali Therapeutics and Arcus Biosciences making waves around the world.

Fancy grabbing a slice of the action? It won’t be easy, but so long as you’re committed to working hard and able to accept a few failures along the way, it is possible.

Here are a few top tips for success to bear in mind as you get your biotech startup going.

#1: knowing where to cut costs

There are no two ways around it, money will be tight, at least for the first year or two. Like every single business out there, small or large, you’ll constantly be looking for places to cut corners and save a few pennies. It’s a wise move but a strategy you also need to think carefully about.

Saving money by swapping to energy-efficiency lighting or sourcing cheaper laboratory supplies online is sensible, just don’t sacrifice on quality in the process (it’s a false economy you’ll regret further down the line).

#2: learn how to communicate to investors

Moving away from academia and the grant processes you’ve grown so familiar with, and towards a business model that involves dealing with investors, will feel difficult to begin with. Really, all you need to do is change your communication style.

Instead of sending an application to a faceless funding body, you’re basically selling yourself, your research and your business. Gaining confidence in this is simple, you just need to work on improving your general sales skills (such as closing deals like a pro and understanding the art of self-promotion).

#3: understanding your own worth

Before they can get the ball rolling, every entrepreneur has to get over their initial nerves and ‘have I got what it takes’ midnight worries.

You may be scared (and a little bit stressed, let’s be honest) but so are the hundreds of other young scientists who’re running startups. Know your worth and be clear about your goals, and you’ll find there are lots of investment opportunities to take advantage of.

It’s never easy to launch your own business but when you start to feel overwhelmed, remind yourself of all the biotech startup success stories of recent years – if they can do it, so can you.