McGill/GCRG Invention #9
Our multidisciplinary team emerged thanks to the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Startup Challenge. Before our venture as entrepreneurs, our team members worked either at universities as researchers occupying leadership positions or as employees for various companies. This diverse blend constitutes our unique corporate DNA and allows us to better tackle upcoming challenges.
ProVivoX Inc. has officially been incorporated in March 2014, which is most evidently an important milestone for our company. Creating a new biotech startup company brings uncertainty, and, to be honest, most of us did not know what to expect. One relevant insight we came upon during our exploration is that no technology or product survives initial contact with the real world (or the customer). We use this knowledge in our approach to validate and improve our product, as many other Lean enthusiast entrepreneurs do. Given that we pride ourselves on being extremely dedicated and committed to our work, we seek the best quality standards in all of our interactions. To do so, during the process of implementing a successful business plan, we constantly sought feedback from our advisory board, composed of judges, professors, physicians, colleagues, and mentors – everybody is a resource for this purpose.
The key to a successful startup is an ability to grow and adapt within a rapidly changing environment; thus, efficient communication becomes essential for survival. Our team dynamics are reinforced by keeping the same pace week after week, and maintaining cohesiveness among all the members. Luckily, we represent a great cultural fit and we feel that we have been able to easily and rationally reach a consensus when needed.
Business development and strategy
One of the biggest challenges that we experienced was prioritizing all the difficult tasks that need to be accomplished. Indeed, the success of ProVivoX Inc. hinges on the choices we made and will make as co-founders. Through this process, we have discovered launching a startup is immensely interesting and entirely different from a more standard office job. Our new responsibilities include refining the business plan, implementing our intellectual property plan, and executing the activities that will lead us to our first concrete endeavors as a legal company (incorporation, negotiating and signing research agreements, establishing partnerships, etc). Secondly, the best card in our hand was the intrinsic potential of our innovation: we aim to bring to the market a cutting-edge product by merging a new technology and novel strategies to provide better information to patients afflicted with cancer. In the long run, we believe that our success will be derived from a balanced sum of talent and inspiration. To reach our goals and put to market a game-changing innovation, we need to be looking for a lot more than just talent – for us, this is called passion.
Time management is also crucial at this moment of the challenge: we know that every hour counts. As a small company we have limited resources, so each one of us has committed a given amount of time each day to drive the process forward efficiently. New priorities arise every day, and we have to stay focused and committed to the time allotted for the startup company. This is particularly important when looking for funding as we must clearly communicate all details of our company’s position, the importance of investing in the startup at this moment, and where we expect to be as the company continues to grow. In this process we have identified different sources of funding, including (but not limited to) grants, incubator organizations, non-profit entrepreneurship organizations, local development centers, and innovation centers. These opportunities will allow us to fulfill our first round of capital. As we hoped, our unique value proposition has sparked curiosity from different organizations and experts that identified the potential of our business model.
Social media and raising awareness
We communicate the value of our company by using different social media channels, a strategy now widely used by big and small corporations. Facebook has helped us make ProVivoX and our participation in the Breast Cancer Start-up Challenge visible to our networks and allows for easy communication of daily updates within our team. We have also set up a project and a company profile on LinkedIn, where ProVivoX Inc. cofounders have updated their job roles on their personal profiles and have created a following for ProVivoX Inc. in social media. Twitter is also an outlet where we notify our followers about our news and we can also follow organizations that we consider relevant, including other Breast Cancer Start-up Challenge finalists. Our presence on YouTube is also relevant because of the elevator pitch video that was previously uploaded onto the Challenge channel. These social media outlets will be used extensively in the development of our startup and will be featured prominently on our own webpage, www.provivox.com. The not-so-secret to success is to constantly look for ways to do things better, faster, and cheaper. We intend put this methodology to work for patients, to provide a fast and efficient prognosis test at a fraction of the cost.
In a nutshell, during the last months our unique, talented and motivated team at ProVivoX Inc. has excelled at achieving the required milestones to bring to life a startup company whose primary goal is to make a lasting impact on the quality of life of patients afflicted with cancer.