Week 22 – “Cat”apulting Towards Year’s End
Hope all is going well. I would like to start this week’s blog by welcoming a new addition to the family. Lizzie is a 2.5 year old stray cat that was adopted this week by our son Cameron, who as you know heads our Marketing and Sales group. We are happy to see that Pretzel the black Lab has a new “cousin.” I know that this has nothing to do with our business but it is nice to share some good news on the personal front. Plus, it plays nicely into this week’s blog theme.
Now back to business. This is the time of the year where we are up against the impending holidays (both Thanksgiving and Christmas) in terms of trying to get some research and business done knowing that things are going to get delayed but trying to avoid any long delays. Even though it’s not said, I can see on our team wearing down from a long year (me included) and that the holidays bring a sense of break and recharging with friends and family. My battle, which most small business owners can relate to, is trying to advance what we are doing at the company as fast as possible for what we can control until the holidays arrive. Unfortunately, we work with a lot of large companies and foreign institutions. This slowdown is so much more pronounced than it is here. It can (and has) killed potential discussions or negotiations on the business side because significant change can occur in just a few months. We had a significant deal ready to be implemented that was unfortunately delayed past the holidays, which led to changes at the company and it being cancelled. Research can also slow down because some experiments take time to set up and that timing can be disrupted due the holidays. I am in no way trying to be a downer about the holidays. This is my favorite time of the year on a personal level, but for business, it is really challenging.
On the research front, we have made such strides in so many areas. It is nice to have that feeling of success since most of the time you are dealing with issues. The best part of this progress is that a majority of the positive feedback we are getting is from outside groups. There is no better feeling when you are told that your technology is working great. I do think sometimes we make it look “easy” since we have been doing this a long time and we are able to troubleshoot most problems fairly quick. Our success is directly related to our great team. Could not do it without them! I think this is viewed by some outside companies as anyone can do what we do, but they know that isn’t necessarily true since they’ve tried to get others to do the same thing they asked us to do. This also makes it challenging when we look to set a cost for work we will need to conduct. Again, if it’s viewed as “easy,” then it shouldn’t cost too much, at least that’s how the potential customer tends to view it. I would say that we’ve put over 18 years into really refining the process to make it “easier” than it would have been. That work was time-consuming, costly and sometimes frustrating, but it has been worth it in the end. Even with all of the work we’ve done, there is still a lot of work that always needs to be done to make any program we work on a success. You would be amazed at some of the pushback we get on pricing, but my feeling is that the customer is not working for free or low-cost at their jobs, so why are they expecting us to do the same. We have been fortunate to have a lot of great partners, but this is always the bone of contention. To be honest, we need to be more aggressive in how we price programs since I know we produce results in a timely manner and typically go above and beyond to make a customer/partner happy. Tina has been drilling these thoughts into me and I know she’s correct. Sometimes the scientist in me doesn’t get it.
On the business front, we continue to aggressively pursue potential strategic partners to help us execute on our plan to really move BioSurfaces forward. We have several key partners on the research side that could blossom into potential significant opportunities. Bringing in some well-needed, targeted investment, we believe, will help us further realize the potential of our technology. This does not even consider all of the technology that we’ve internally developed over the past 18 years. I believe we are a company that is at an inflection point where some really good things could happen if we have the right partners with us. I am excited about our plan and we are working hard to make the dream a reality. A lot of work ahead and likely the road will be extremely bumpy, but hey, what would the journey be if it was “easy?” Actually, for once, it would be nice to have a less bumpy path (like a nice smooth airplane flight).
Last but certainly not least, we would like to pay homage to our brave men and women who protect this great nation and allow us to maintain the freedoms we tend to take for granted. Some of our Veterans have paid the ultimate sacrifice and for that we will forever be grateful. I am sure some of our foreign blog reader must think we are such a dysfunctional bunch as of late. We certainly have our moments, but there is no other place where I would want to live. Democracy is fragile and is constantly being challenged which makes our service people even more important. As the late U.S. Air Force Colonel Walter Hitchcock said, “Freedom is not free.” Thank you to all of the past and present members of the armed forces for your service and sacrifice.
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, our next blog will be posted on December 3rd. For those of you that celebrate this holiday, we hope you have a great holiday!