Successful Startup Founder says: Always Follow up on Customer‘s Needs

21. Nov. 2018

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After getting their doctoral degrees, less than half of the students stay in the academia. How to build a career after completing a doctorate? CEITEC MU is looking for an answer in the series of meetings called Life after PhD which gives the floor to successful scientists from the academia, the business, and the public sector. On 23 October, forty people attended the lecture of the co-founder and head of R&D of the GeneProof biotechnology company, Dr Miloš Dendis.

In 2005 when the company was still in its infancy, it was a small startup dealing with molecular in vitro diagnostics of severe infectious and genetic diseases. Today, GeneProof has around 70 employees, a portfolio of forty products and 90 % of its production is exported abroad. Just this year they spent roughly 20 million CZK on research and development. The head of the company’s R&D department, Dr Miloš Dendis, came to share his experience of turning lab results into commercial products with those who attended the Life After PhD series.

“When founding a startup, you need a partner you can rely on entirely. You’ll have to share not only successes but also problems because those are sure to come as well. Such a partnership is not dissimilar to marriage; you have to choose your partner really carefully because a business divorce is a very painful matter,” says Dendis.

He advises young entrepreneurs to always keep their eyes on the prize which is the product intended for customers. According to Dendis, identifying customers’ needs is paramount. “One time we developed a product that was perfect from the scientific point of view but the customers simply weren’t interested. That’s why it’s essential to align your goals with the needs of your customers. Even during product development, you have to keep asking yourself whether the customers or the market changed in any way,” warns Dendis.

People coming from the scientific environment sometimes tend to do things that are unique science-wise but way too complicated. According to Dendis, this is also a step in the wrong direction. “Customers prefer simple things. If you’re developing something complicated, you have to be 100% sure that the customers are interested in it. When Steve Jobs came with his iPhone, it wasn’t anything that new. There were already computers, mp3 players and mobile phones. He just came up with a user-friendly and simple product – an intuitive device with a touch screen and a single button. Even my two-year-old daughter learned to control a tablet in no time. Apple just answered the needs of customers who did not want to read instruction manuals; they just wanted something they could start using right away,” adds Dendis.

His advice to young entrepreneurs is: don’t lose courage, have patience and keep an open mind. “There is enough money in the market; lots of companies are willing to invest in startups. What we generally lack are new ideas. If you’re able to explain what is special about your product, you’ll definitely find the money,” concludes Dendis.

Source: Technology Transfer Office of Masaryk University