STARTING A START-UP
THE FIRST STEP: Evaluating the Opportunity
At our initial meeting, we’ll get a sense of your innovation’s ultimate commercial potential and we’ll “vet” the idea with advisors. We’ll ask questions such as:
- What’s the technology, and its stage of development?
- What are the applicable market(s)?
- What’s the best path to market?
- What’s the IP position?
- What’s the competitive landscape?
So that you understand what to expect, your C4C Technology Manager will thoroughly discuss our start-up process, including a review of the licensing process and an explanation of UW conflict of interest policies.
Once a start-up is on the New Ventures docket, we establish a launch team. It will include your Technology Manager and other C4C business development professionals, an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR), external mentors and advisors, and MBA students to work on the business plan. Over time the team will evolve to include people with management experience who could potentially help run the company.
The new team should work towards a project plan that lays out 1) the initial business vision for the start-up, and 2) the technical milestones that will drive the innovation towards commercialization. A preliminary business plan will be a natural outcome of this stage, and will answer questions such as: who are the customers for the technology? what market(s) will be targeted? how large are those markets? what’s the competitive landscape? We’ll help with this process, pulling in EIRs, mentors and MBA students for assistance as needed.
For projects seeking SBIR funding or that are in license negotiations, it may be time to establish an incorporated company. As we proceed, we can clarify issues regarding the founding team, ownership of the company, etc. We provide sample legal documents, and connections to experts who can help set up simple accounting, legal structure, and HR systems as the company launches.
We work with the start-up team to gain access to as many commercialization funding opportunities as possible. These can include our internal C4C Commercialization Gap Fund, our close partner, the Washington Research Foundation, outside funding options such as federally funded SBIR and STTR grants, and state funding through WTC, LSDF, and other sources. The C4C Grants Manager heads the effort to identify and develop these options, grant preparation procedures, and timelines.
We make our licensing process as transparent and predictable as possible. Early on, we explain:
- how the process works
- what we’ll need to see in a business plan to proceed
- the key terms and what they mean to UW researchers, the university, and the licensee
- what to expect during the negotiation itself
- how conflicts of interest are managed at the UW, including the importance of identifying potential conflicts early so appropriate management plans can be established through the Office of Research
Typically, before a formal license or option is granted, a company is formed and has a preliminary business plan so that significant milestones and "value inflection points" can be established.
When the project has progressed sufficiently to begin raising capital, the New Ventures team will help the project team prepare a top-notch investor pitch, fine-tune the business plan, establish a strategy, target a list of investors, provide introductions, and position the venture for presentation at the Tech Alliance Innovation Showcase and angel investor events.
Getting it right early on
The C4C New Ventures program provides a suite of services to help you launch your enterprise well. Our services are intended to:
- increase the value of UW start-ups by helping researchers find quality leadership, investors, and financing
- address risks associated with:
- technology prototype/proof of concept
- intellectual property
- management and/or team
- market evaluation
- regulatory and clinical strategy
- capital structure and ability to finance