понедельник, 12 октября 2015 г.

How We Benefited From a SME Instrument Phase 1 Grant

How We Benefited From a SME Instrument Phase 1 Grant

Oct 07, 2015/By: Nejc Škoberne/In: Genialis/ 0 Comments
“We just can’t submit the proposal as it is. It’s really bad! We have to fix it and submit at the next cut-off.” That was the conclusion our team made a few hours before the June 2014 deadline for submitting our SME Instrument Phase 1 proposal. It felt a bit like a failure. Honestly, we haven’t invested too much time into proposal preparation up to that point and we probably relied too much on our external partner for proposal preparation. Mainly this was because we knew that odds were not really in favor of our proposal to be selected in the end.

Anyway, we refactored the whole proposal during the summer. Still, after submitting it at the next cut-off in September, I still didn’t have a good feeling about it. I wasn’t comfortable about how the technology part was worded. However, in retrospect, I think this might also be why I was wrong. Maybe the proposal was in the end successful also because somebody from the outside actually articulated the hard technical details, we’ll never know for sure. Anyway, our proposal was one of the 178 granted proposals out of 1944 (9%) submitted at the September cut-off.

Winning a SME Instrument Phase 1 grant helped Genialis in several different ways.

Take A Step Back
As the main deliverable of the project was the Feasibility Study, we needed to take a step back as a company and rethink our vision, users, market and the technology we have been building for the last 2 years. We could finally focus on the neglected activities we didn’t have resources to perform before, as we needed to mainly focus on our survival. Which activities do I have in mind? Problem discovery and validation. Solution sketching and validation. Business model discovery and validation. And more.

Investment Readiness Assessment
In June 2015 just before the end of the project, we had the opportunity to host Mr. Petar Statev from Bulgaria for one day. Petar is a seasoned entrepreneur with running several successful companies. We would go through many aspects of our company following a rigorous assessment methodology. By the end of the day we have learned a lot about how investors percieve companies like ours and what else do we need to do in order to be come more investable.

Get Feedback From an Domain Expert
A few months later, we have taken the advantage of a coaching program that all SME Instrument beneficiaries are eligible for. For 3 days, we have hosted Mr. Iordanis Arzimanoglou from Greece. Iordanis is also an experienced businessman who understands our domain. He provided us with a useful insight into how biotech, pharma and genetic diagnostics industries work and think. Although 3 days were too short to discuss every detail of our company, we have learned a lot about the importance of contact networks and networking events, and how to nurture our current accounts properly.

A Better Business Plan
Genialis is not a typical technology start-up. We work somewhere in the intersection between Information and Communication Technology field (ICT) and biotechnology. In the past, we have struggled many times with defining our ideal users, target markets, benefits, etc. Using the SME Instrument resources we could actively work on business planning and validating key hypotheses. In the end, we managed to come up with a solid business plan for our business.

We have already submitted our Phase 2 proposal recently. If the project is accepted, we will be able to finalize, test and validate our software product and further develop its commercialization plan. Fingers crossed.

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