You need to understand what your customer wants and what value they put on getting it! It sounds obvious, but I have seen many fall into the trap of thinking that their new technology is wonderful without considering who will buy it, how it will fit into, or disrupt, the way these customers currently do things, what the “cost” of change would be.
You need to be honest about your ability to deliver the produce or service - and the cost of doing so. This requires a precise definition of what the product or service will be. Getting the specification wrong because you don’t ask the right questions can waste a lot of time and a large amount of money.
You need to understand the time requirements of your potential customer and the constraints on you satisfying them. Do they have customers? Is there a major event that they would aim for? Do you have competitors who are developing their own answers to the customer needs?
You will need money to pay for it all. Where are you going to get it? Can you make enough progress with debt to give you a stronger case for investment? Is there a sufficient return to interest potential investors? Are there government or European grant schemes that can help?
David has over 25 years experience in developing and commercializing materials technologies with British Petroleum, Courtaulds, and ICI in a variety of roles, before joining the UK Governments Technology Strategy Board as Director of Innovation Programmes. He serves as the Chairman Oxford Biomaterials and is a Non-Executive Director of Oxford Advanced Surfaces Group Plc.
31 January 2017
In the early seventies, I went to the University of Sussex. It is about 4 miles outside of Brighton, where many of the students lived. There were buses and trains to cover the distance, but the preferred means of getting back into town was hitch-hiking – it was an almost industrial process, with a self-organised line and amazing efficiency. It was so much of an institution that the Students Union welcome pack for students contained the (pre-enlightenment) quote “Patience is a virtue, or a pretty girl. Both of which are useful when hitching”.
I have learnt, in the many years since I left Sussex, that patience is a useful virtue to have in business – and certainly in government. However, it is sadly lacking.