Posted on 26th April, 2017

by Dr. Chris Ball

Growth Success: Know why customers and investors buy

Chris Ball, CEO and founder of Jupiter Diagnostics discusses how he has taken the key learnings he’s obtained from being a marketer, a customer and an investor, in order to build his innovative life sciences business.

When starting a business, it helps to understand three key things: what motivates customers to buy, what attracts investors and how best to sell the company’s offering to both groups. I am lucky to be in the unusual position of having worked as a hospital doctor, launched point-of-care blood glucose products, and invested in this market as a VC.

Being able to wear the hat of a customer, marketer and investor means I can see how my business should be developing from all angles. Understanding the theory behind how the business should be run is not enough though – the right mindset is also vital.

Test key assumptions – and keep testing them

Before Jupiter, I ran OPK Biotech, a commercial-stage Boston biotech company, where I launched the first products and raised $40 million for the company. That experience was invaluable when starting my own business, as it taught me to keep testing the core assumptions about the business. The trap for any entrepreneur is faith-based decision-making, rather than testing ideas with the market. As I learned at OPK, an initial opportunity may prove, after talking to real customers, to be a horrible idea. Engaging with customers from the start is vital to making sure the final product meets customer need. At Jupiter, we are working closely with real clinicians in London and Germany, as we develop our products and sales materials.

Make sure there is a scalable sales model

Building the near-perfect product is useless unless a company has a a scalable sales model. My time working for large corporates has taught me building successful science companies is not really about technology (although it does have to work first!). Instead, success comes from understanding how to acquire customers and deliver repeat sales.

Build the best team possible

The founder alone cannot build a successful business: entrepreneurs need a strong support network around them. Entrepreneurs need to invest the time and money to hire a core team of the best people available. This has two benefits. Firstly, good people attract other good people, which quickly leads to a virtuous circle where the best actively approach the business looking for work. Secondly, a a strong team means the CEO can focus on the bigger picture, trusting individuals to manage their area of expertise and deliver the results needed.

Plan and budget for challenges

Despite careful planning, unexpected delays will occur. An entrepreneur should always be looking ahead for the bumps in the road, and be ready to change direction quickly if required. Regular communication with investors is vital so they can understand the likely risks ahead and how the company plans to address these potential challenges. I am fortunate to have a group of smart, seasoned investors: using them as a sounding board for my ideas is invaluable for thinking about potential problems in the future.


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