Week 9 – Rounding the Bend to 20 Years
Hope all is going well. This past Tuesday, we celebrated our 19th year in business. This is something that our team likely didn’t even realize. Tina and I did not make any announcement to the group (they are likely learning about it now if they are reading this blog). It was business as usual. I did take time to think about the day we walked over to the Ashland Town Hall and submitted the paperwork for our new endeavor. BioSurfaces was set up as a Sole Proprietorship and we were in business. It seems like a blink of an eye and 19 years have gone by.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I was hoping to get a year or so out of commuting into Boston. My feelings about only getting a year were not based on our technology. On the contrary, I have always strongly believed in our technology. Heck, we formed a company from a government grant based around it so I knew that my peers thought the technology was different and warranted evaluation. My fears about the company’s success have always been rooted in things I was not so sure about such as a scientist learning to run a business and limited access to people or groups with access to money. I knew I could learn the former but the latter could spell doom to any company. I am not from money so did not have those contacts and was not in the business arena so did not have those contacts. This, by far, has been my biggest challenge. Still is. Most companies raising funds have an excellent network since most biotech companies are not able to sell a product to a customer right away. We have had to work extremely hard with a lot less than most companies. This is why when we are seeing such great success it is more personal. I see so many companies asking for a lot of upfront money, which makes me wonder, when the technology ends up being a bust, if they are just trying to get while the getting is good. Happens so much more than you think. When we are looking for funding, we have not been going this route. I sometimes think it’s a mistake because the business world is all about the deal. I like to call it high-stakes gambling. The damn scientist sometimes gets in the way of the businessman. We have been responsible and know with the right folks believing in us, we are going to make this company successful without going this crazy route. The groups that decide to take a chance with us will not be disappointed. Hopefully, they can see value vs hype and know a good thing when they see it. I think we are getting close to this point.
I have said to Tina it would be disappointing that this would be the best technology that no one funds or ever sees. It could happen. It won’t be due to lack of effort on our part for sure. We want this to succeed not just for us, but for our team. We have the most amazing team on this journey with us. We are truly at an inflection point in the company. I have never been surer about the promise of what our technology can do on many different fronts. As I mentioned in previous blogs, we have several companies evaluating our technology for their specific applications. Two of these groups just reported back this past week on some initial preclinical data, which looked absolutely amazing. Now, we have seen this type of data in our hands but every time an outside group shares their data, it continues to reinforce how promising this technology is. One set of data was so good, the partner we are working with said he has never seen this type of healing ever. I will share this data in a future blog. I literally almost cried from sheer joy. Now before you start judging me and saying what a geek or sad sack I am, understand what I’ve laid out to you in terms of the battle we have been facing for over 19 years. For those of you with children, it’s like seeing them accomplish something important in their life. Same feeling. More and more positive data is continuing to be generated, which is humbling, exciting and nerve-wracking all in one. It can really weigh on you when you know you have something that could one day be used in patients that have heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, etc. and you want everyone to get on board, but that part is really hard to control. This is what will keep me up at night.
Not all data that comes back is glowingly positive. After all, it is science and we are innovating in different areas. Sometimes it can take a decent amount of time to fully develop an application or device. I remember my father-in-law Shorty (his real name is Salvatore, but everyone called him Shorty because in his words he was not tall) asking me many years ago, “Are you still working on the same thing?” Shorty was a laborer, meaning he would build or fix something and then you moved onto the next job. He did not understand how I could be working in the same area and I would say to him that if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. He would be surprised (sadly he has long passed on) that here I am almost 33 years later focused in the same space. Regardless, he was always proud of what I was working which was a nice feeling.
For our in vitro research tools business, for example, we are bringing a new technology to market. Scientists have been using the same technology for decades so getting them to change or try something new is a challenge. We are also going to need to make changes as we develop the technology to make their job easier, but still providing them something better and more accurate to conduct benchtop studies. Getting data back from different groups evaluating our technology is so important, both the good and the bad. You cannot really improve something unless you hear all aspects. We have followed this philosophy since the company’s inception, which is why I believe we’ve been successful.
Please make sure to check out #FactualFriday on May 6th and we’ll see you back here on May 13th.