10 questions to ask yourself before turning your innovation into a start-up company

 

  1. What problem does your technology solve? Your innovation must offer a significant, game-changing solution to a problem – a solution for which a large number of customers will be willing to pay. And that solution should offer a platform for other potential products.
  2. What is your value proposition? Articulate clearly and concisely how your innovation is significantly better, faster, smaller or cheaper than existing solutions. Prepare a compelling “* elevator pitch.”
  3. Have you established “proof of concept”? Develop a prototype or working model, or complete validation studies that demonstrate function, safety and efficacy, as well as reasonable production costs.
  4. Do you have patent protection? A patent will give your company the legal right to stop others from copying or reproducing your innovation over the life of the patent. It creates a barrier to entry for others in the same commercial space.
  5. Is your market opportunity big enough? Take the time to identify your potential customers and what drives them, and then determine whether you have enough of a market to support the future growth of a company.
  6. How will you make money? Make sure you have the right business model for generating revenue long-term. Who’s going to pay, and how much? Don’t forget Start-Ups Pitt Innovator LIBRARY 2 *Elevator Pitch Checklist • Brief innovation description (nonconfidential) • The problem it solves • Market potential • Comparison to existing solutions • Development stage • Intellectual property protection status development and manufacturing costs, time to market, length of sales cycle, marketing, and other cost considerations.
  7. Are investors interested? Most technology-based start-ups require significant capital to launch effectively. Get feedback from local angel investor networks or venture capital groups.
  8. Have you lined up an experienced CEO and other key management? A strong CEO and management team are critical to the success of a start-up company, particularly when it comes to raising capital, seeking regulatory approvals, and setting the company’s course.
  9. Have you considered your role? Entrepreneurship is risky and isn’t for everyone. And to work for the start-up, you will have to give up your academic position, at least temporarily. Consider simply serving in an advisory role with the start-up as you continue your research.
  10. How much do you want? As the University negotiates the licensing and ownership terms for your innovation, take time to understand the University’s ownership and COI policies. And keep in mind this adage: It’s often better to own a small piece of a potentially big pie than a big piece of a small pie.

 

*Elevator Pitch Checklist

  • Brief innovation description (nonconfidential)
  • The problem it solves • Market potential
  • Comparison to existing solutions
  • Development stage
  • Intellectual property protection status