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初创生物医药公司失败的5大原因

青瓦 青瓦 来源:医药魔方
2018-12-02
创新
原文

本文译自:Top 5 Reasons Why Biotech Startups Fail;原作者:Clara Rodríguez Fernández


创业是九死一生,如果放到需要不断创新的生物技术领域,可能更加艰难。虽说坚持到最后将收获超高的回报,但并不是每个创业者都能走到那一步。


从事生物技术创业是一件高风险的选择。与一般几个月就能推出产品的典型科技创业公司不同,生物技术企业通常需要几年的密集烧钱,才能将其首款产品推向市场。


本文作者与多位创业者交流,知晓了创业过程中的一些“坑”。交流的专家有些是连续创业者,创建了多家生物技术公司。他们指出了创业者容易犯的五大错误并给予了一些建议,在此分享给身处其中的读者。


1. 财务策略有缺陷


对任何年轻的创业者而言,现金流始终是生物技术创业公司面临的最大挑战,它们往往需要筹集更多资金,以确保公司能够活得足够长。 


找到合适的投资者是创业初期的关键。但获得投资者信任需要时间,这意味着创业者在成立公司前就应该与投资者对话。


提前与投资者交流是获得专家反馈和早期评估企业可行性的绝佳机会。荷兰生物技术投资公司Forbion的普通合伙人Holger Reithinger指出,“只有与经验丰富的投资者合作,才知道下一步该如何做。”


提前确定不同投资者的优先事项条款同样重要。假如投资者与创始人不能在下一步计划以及退出方面达成一致,混乱将随之而来。创业者在接受私募投资时,常犯的错误是,通过不断稀释的股权削弱了自己在公司的话语权,最终可能导致自己根本无法兑现创立公司时的承诺。


生物技术公司失败的另一个原因可能是经常进行小规模筹款。意大利科技转让公司AurorA-TT的联合创始人兼执行合伙人Edoardo Negroni指出:“筹款是一项至关重要的工作,创业者在接触投资者时必须谨慎,融资最好不要过于频繁。”


“融资后的第一件事就是制定一个计划,并展示给信任的投资者,这对未来的募资具有决定性作用。千万不能等钱快花完了才想起来建立证据,撰写下一轮融资计划。”Negroni建议道。在他看来,为下一轮做准备永远不会太早,创业者应该时刻与潜在合作伙伴保持联系,为将来合作打下充分的信任基础。


2. 缺乏管理经验


生物技术创业公司的成功或失败,很大程度上与团队管理能力有关。“尽早让有管理经验的人登机,避免昂贵的弯路,”Reithinger说。


“有两种人才要避免,一种是只有丰富的大药企管理经验,他们的方法论一般只适合大型制药企业的运营;另一种是从没有在中小型公司工作过,他们显然缺乏初创企业运营所需的技能。”Reithinger补充道。


“对于初创企业家及其公司而言,成功的关键是建立人脉关系,并寻求经验丰富的导师和地区专家的指导。药物开发仍然是一种艺术形式,KOL的见解是驱动公司成功的重要因素。”肿瘤生物技术公司BioMoti的首席执行官Davidson Ateh坦言。


Dinko 是一位企业家,他曾参与过欧洲12家生物技术公司的创立。在他看来,管理层和股东保持良好的关系,并清晰阐述对投资者的期望也很重要。“从投资者角度,当CEO没有被董事会和/或投资者授权而是保持短暂的牵制时,也并不意味着投资者不信任CEO;从创业者而言,假如不专注于为公司做到最好,那么成功的机会将会迅速减少。”


在Valerio看来,公司管理者和投资者应该尊重彼此的角色。最重要的是,每个参与者都是专注和积极的。许多伟大的技术发明在转化过程中,其实是被不合格的CEO、管理者、投资者和董事会破坏的。


3. 技术平庸


确凿可信的数据,是生物技术公司需要来说服投资者、合作伙伴以及监管机构的必要条件。否则旁人无法看清该产品(技术)是值得被投资、合作以及批准上市的。


因此在投入项目之前,首先要确保该技术(产品)是有市场需求,该方法具有创新性并优于竞争对手,这一点非常重要。“只有真正创新的公司,而不是'me-too'的方法,”Reithinger说。“你需要考虑手里的数据能够支持公司活几年。”


创业不是赶时髦。只有确保自己的技术满足了未满足的高需求,具有先发优势,才可以给公司潜在项目提供足够的时间来对抗直接和间接的竞争对手。很多在动物模型上起作用的分子,在人体临床试验上未必能看到效果。


专业的投资人其实是很鼓励创业者对新技术进行压力测试,这样获得的反馈,可以避免其他人浪费时间和金钱。比技术失败更让人害怕的是,企业误报数据或者夸张作用效果,尽管短期内会给该领域带来很多资金,但长期而言对整个行业是一种拖累。 


4. 时机不对


虽然生物技术产品的开发需要相当长的时间,但把握正确的时机,快速做出决策对于公司的成功至关重要。让管理者最难下决定的是——及时止损,即对未达到预期效果的产品或技术“及时放手”。 


“高管们必须接受药物开发的高风险性,并通过精心设计的试验,尽早测试候选产品的有效性与安全性。在错误的道路上坚持,只会更加痛苦和昂贵。”一位创业者深有体会。


在Johnson看来,创业者在《商业计划书》里标注通俗易懂的“止损条件”比“画大饼”更有效,这样可以协调财务支持者的期望,定期决定是否继续或注销资产。同时,这可以确保里程碑持续快速交付,对取悦投资者并保持优于竞争对手的优势也至关重要。


5. 不敢冒险


即便是精心计划,生物技术是一项非常难以预测的业务。公司需要准备好承担计算风险,以便度过困难时期。

“大多数成功的企业在产品或技术上市之前,必须经历一次或多次重大变革。一般只有脑子灵活、胆子大的管理者才能掌舵好航线的改变。” Valerio说。

Valerio认为,一个天生无法做出大胆决定的创业者注定会失败。按照定义,成功是罕见的,失败才是常态。当创业者回归中庸,回归均值,而不是做出大胆的选择时,失败已经潜伏在四周。


6. 建议:从错误中学习


虽然创建一家生物技术公司并确保其长期成功的目标令人生畏,但创业者不应该气馁。成功的道路此起彼伏,乐观主义是企业家不要过早放弃的原因。保持专注是非常重要的,最重要的是——始终从错误中吸取教训。


“失败是初创公司成功的一部分,” Negroni总结道。“如果你从失败中吸取教训,就可以为成功到来做好准备。”


“我们在高风险、最前沿的环境中运营公司,进入临床试验的候选药物也是九死一生。无论是投资者还是创业者,更应该接受失败是常态这一现实。” 受访表示,“创业者不要害怕犯错误,尽最大努力建立一个成功的公司。如果它不起作用,就用经历失败学到的东西再试一次。”

机器翻译

This article is translated from: Top 5 Reasons Why Biotech Startups Fail; Original author: Clara Rodríguez Fernández

Entrepreneurship is a nine-dead life, and it may be even more difficult to put into biotechnological fields that require continuous innovation.Not every entrepreneur can make it to that point, though it will pay off in the end.

Engaging in biotech entrepreneurship is a high-risk option.Unlike typical tech startups that can launch products in a few months, biotech companies usually need several years of intensive burning to bring their first product to market.

The author of this article communicates with a number of entrepreneurs and knows some of the "pits" in the entrepreneurial process.Some of the experts in communication are serial entrepreneurs and have created a number of biotech companies.They point out the five big mistakes that entrepreneurs can make and give some advice to share with readers who are in it.

1.Defective financial strategies

For any young entrepreneur, cash flow is always the biggest challenge for biotech startups, and they often need to raise more funds to ensure that the company can live long enough.

Finding the right investor is the key to the initial stage of the venture.But it takes time to gain investor trust, which means that entrepreneurs should talk to investors before setting up a company.

Early communication with investors is an excellent opportunity to obtain expert feedback and early assessment of the viability of the enterprise.Holger Reithinger, a general partner at Forbion, the Dutch biotech investment company, points out that "it is only with experienced investors that we know what to do next."

It is equally important to determine the priority terms of different investors in advance.If investors and founders fail to agree on the next plan and exit, chaos will ensue.Entrepreneurs who accept private equity often make the mistake of weakening their say in the company by diluting their stakes, which may eventually lead them to fail to deliver on their promise to start a company.

Another reason for the failure of biotech companies may be frequent small-scale fundraising.Edoardo Negroni, co-founder and managing partner of AurorA-TT, an Italian technology transfer company, pointed out: "Fundraising is a crucial task. Entrepreneurs must be cautious when approaching investors. It is better not to raise funds too often."

" The first thing after financing is to make a plan and show it to trusted investors, which is decisive for future fundraising.Don't wait for the money to run out before you start to build up evidence and write the next round of financing plans.Negroni suggested.In his view, it will never be too early to prepare for the next round. Entrepreneurs should always stay in touch with potential partners to lay a solid foundation of trust for future cooperation.

2.Lack of management experience

The success or failure of biotech startups is largely related to team management capabilities."Get people with management experience on board as soon as possible to avoid expensive detours," Reithinger said.

"There are two kinds of talent to avoid, one is that there is only a wealth of experience in the management of large pharmaceutical companies, and their methodology is generally only suitable for the operation of large pharmaceutical companies; the other is never worked in small and medium-sized companies, and they obviously lack the skills needed for start-up operations."Reithinger added.

"For startups and their companies, the key to success is to build relationships and seek guidance from experienced mentors and regional experts.Drug development is still an art form, and KOL's insights are an important factor in driving the company's success.Davidson Ateh, chief executive of BioMoti, a cancer biotech company, said frankly.

Dinko is an entrepreneur who has participated in the founding of 12 European biotechnology companies.In his view, it is also important for management to maintain good relations with shareholders and to articulate expectations for investors."From an investor's point of view, when the CEO is not authorized by the board and/or investors but remains briefly restrained, it does not mean that investors do not trust the CEO; from the entrepreneur's point of view, if you do not focus on doing the best for the company, then the chance of success will decrease rapidly."

In Valerio's view, corporate managers and investors should respect each other's roles.Above all, each participant was preoccupied and motivated.Many great technological inventions are actually destroyed by unqualified ceos, managers, investors, and boards of directors during the transformation process.

3.Technological mediocrity

Conclusive and credible data is a necessary condition for biotech companies to persuade investors, partners, and regulators.Otherwise, it is impossible for others to see that the product (technology) is worth investing, cooperating, and approving for listing.

Therefore, it is very important to ensure that the technology (product) is in market demand before investing in the project. This method is innovative and superior to competitors."There are only truly innovative companies, not the 'me-too' approach," Reithinger says."You need to consider that the data in hand can support the company for several years."

Entrepreneurship is not fashionable.Only by ensuring that their technology meets the high unmet needs and has a first-mover advantage, can we provide enough time for the company's potential projects to fight direct and indirect competitors.Many molecules that work in animal models may not be effective in human clinical trials.

Professional investors actually encourage entrepreneurs to stress test new technologies. The feedback they receive can prevent others from wasting time and money.Even more frightening than the failure of technology is the fact that companies misreport data or exaggerate the effect, although in the short term it will bring a lot of money to the field, but in the long term it is a drag on the entire industry.

4.The timing is not right

Although the development of biotech products takes quite a long time, grasping the right timing and making quick decisions are crucial to the success of the company.The most difficult decision for managers is to stop the damage in time, that is, to "let go" of products or technologies that have not achieved the desired results.

"Executives must accept the high risk of drug development and test the effectiveness and safety of candidate products as early as possible through well-designed trials.Adhering to the wrong path will only make it more painful and expensive."An entrepreneur has a deep understanding.

In Johnson's view, it is more effective for entrepreneurs to mark easy-to-understand "stop-loss conditions" in the Business Plan than to "paint a big cake", so that they can coordinate the expectations of financial supporters and regularly decide whether to continue or cancel assets.At the same time, it ensures that milestones are delivered quickly and continuously, and is essential to please investors and maintain their advantage over competitors.

5.Dare to take risks

Even if it is carefully planned, biotechnology is a very unpredictable business.Companies need to be prepared to take the risk of computing in order to survive difficult times.

"Most successful companies must undergo one or more major changes before a product or technology can be marketed.Usually only the brave and brave manager can take the helm to change the course."Valerio said.

Valerio believes that an entrepreneur who is born unable to make bold decisions is destined to fail.By definition, success is rare and failure is the norm.When entrepreneurs return to the mean and return to the mean instead of making bold choices, failure lurks for four weeks.

6.Recommendation: Learn from errors

While the goal of creating a biotech company and ensuring its long-term success is daunting, entrepreneurs should not be discouraged.The path to success is one after another, and optimism is the reason why entrepreneurs should not give up prematurely.It's important to stay focused, and most importantly, to always learn from mistakes.

"Failure is part of a startup's success," Negroni concludes."If you learn from failure, you can prepare for success."

" We run companies in high-risk, cutting-edge environments, and drug candidates entering clinical trials are also nine dead.Whether it is investors or entrepreneurs, it should be accepted that failure is the norm."Entrepreneurs should not be afraid to make mistakes and do their best to build a successful company," the interview said.If it doesn't work, try again with what you've learned through failure.

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