Week 34 – Climbing Everest
Hope everyone is doing well and is safe and healthy. You ever have one of those weeks where things just don’t seem to go your way? We have been fortunate to have such a good stretch over the past several months. These have been challenging times that we’ve been experiencing so I am in no way complaining. This is just a matter of fact about how this week unfolded. I equate it to climbing a tall mountain like Everest. Just when you think you are heading to the peak, there is always something there to make the trek very treacherous so that you have to slow down or forces you to move back down the mountain to regroup before beginning the ascent again. Sometimes, it takes the wind out of your sails. Being the eternal optimist (and to be honest, this week challenged that viewpoint to no end), it sometimes forces you to dig in and dig deeper to keep moving forward despite the obstacles that still lie ahead. I truly love what we do but weeks like this have me thinking
why didn’t I just go work for a company where I would have limited responsibilities, especially as I am getting older. As a small business owner, you have to be thinking down the road to plan for the future, but looking too far ahead can be pose other problems like having your head too much in the clouds. This week definitely brought me back to earth.
The hardest part of working with outside partners is that you need to rely on their timelines, their funding levels and their proposed time frames. Sadly, if what they are telling you does not come to fruition at all or gets extended longer than expected, it can put a significant kink in the plans you’ve been thinking about implementing. For large companies, time is not an issue to them because they have the financial resources to weather most storms. For small businesses, we survive on hitting our time commitments since time is money. We couldn’t be more opposite. This has been consistent regardless of the business. Believe it or not, we’ve been “in discussions” with a few businesses for a long time, even some for several years. Can you image pursuing an opportunity for this long? We have been fortunate during that time to have development partners during the 3 years we’ve been in discussions. What these companies do not understand, or maybe do not care to understand, is that small companies like ours do not have the typical free flowing cash that they do so to be able to still be around when they are interested in moving forward is not a given. I am sure that a lot of innovative technologies have gone under because of these delays.
This week saw more of these scenarios playing out, both on the delay front and on the re-engaging front. Juggling these types of changes is always tough. If we had the funding of a large company, this would provide us the ability to implement our plan that we were envisioning. It is not that these discussions this week were a death blow to what we are looking to achieve but rather a point to catch our breath, reassess and move forward. I still believe that we have opportunities to move several of these programs forward, but it will take a lot of work to get these accomplished. We are fortunate to have great advocates on our side, something not always achieved by small companies like ours. They believe in us and put pressure on themselves to move these interactions forward. I feel bad that they feel this responsibility and humbled that they believe in us this much.
Because of this reality, we have worked hard to develop a pathway in which we are bringing in revenue to stem the down times. We are fortunate to have great collaborators at the National Institutes of Health. It is this type of collaboration that results in a diagnostic tool that others can benefit from. We have already begun to send some free samples. We will be altering our website next week to allow customers to get a free sample of our plates. To give you an insight into what we will be offering for our 96-well Transwell plates to start, we will have clear biodegradable polymers (1.0 IV and 0.6 IV PDLGA membranes with 6µm and 10µm thickness, respectively), polyurethane membrane (44µm) and polyester membrane (150µm), as is and with surface charge (positive and negative charges, respectively). These membranes will also be available for 24-well Transwell plates that we will be releasing in the near future. We will continue to expand our portfolio as we move forward and may offer an option for membrane customization. If you are interested in one of these plates before we release the new changes to the website, please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continue to stay vigilant and keep social distancing, wear a mask where social distancing is not possible to protect yourself and those around you and frequently wash your hands. It is too easy to go backwards if we do not all pull together. Getting back to some sort of real normal depends on it. The scientific (and not political party-based) evidence is overwhelming that masks have a positive effect on controlling the virus. Keep supporting your local businesses as they continue to work through these challenging times. Many of these businesses are nowhere near out of the woods yet and won’t be for a while.