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Founders are generally replaced.

October 10, 2012

This has been simmering in my head for a few days.  And it’s probably not fully cooked yet.  But a few related tweets today, so here goes…


Specifically I want to note the second sentence; “Founders are generally replaced…”

Today from the BIO Investor Forum 2012:

The old “bet on the jockey” trick, à la Maxwell Smart.

This reminded me of the Jim Collins stuff, “They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

Back to my last post on network; network to help identify the right people and replace the founders.  And, as mentioned, network to identify the right investors with the right network to help identify the right people and replace the founders.

A dilemma (I have always spelled it dilemna, by the way) can arise, however, if the right people are not readily available in the company’s current locale.  How do you find them?  Where do you get them?


University spinout.  Specifically a life science university spinout.  Or, rather, back it up a step.  Make that life science IP at a university that has the potential to be a startup.  And say you can’t go out on the streets and find the right team because there’s not an indigenous supply of those people.  What do you try?  A thought…

Take the IP to the right people.  Start with your network of university alumni.  Perhaps you create an LLC and license the IP into it.  Do some “accelerator” type of stuff–let that be the “founder” who gets replaced.  Talk to investors in the space.  Figure it out some.  Talk to strategics; i) is it me, too ii) is it the dreaded “interesting,” iii) is it cool, iv) kind of where do we need to get it first milestone-wise.  You know, due diligence-y stuff.

Here’s the kicker though–throw some money at it to reproduce the data.  Do the “killer” experiment.  Killer as in “very cool.”  Or maybe killer as in, “well, that didn’t work.”  Either way.  More on that topic in the future.  “Whoah, slow down killah!”

So you do the killer “very cool” experiment.  Now you’ve got something to shop around.  Something you can network.  Something you can show to people who might be the right people.

Then let the right people run with it.  Wherever they are.

Does that make some sense?


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