Participants in the University of Toronto’s Techno program share lessons learned from the month-long crash course in technology commercialization.
Commercialization of research from the lab bench into real world applications has long been identified as a missing piece of Canada’s economy. Across the country, a network of incubators and accelerators are working to address this gap.
Among the programs looking to help with commercialization is Technopreneurship (or Techno), a month-long entrepreneurial “boot camp” of sorts at the University of Toronto. Created by the university’s Institute for Optical Sciences, this year 32 participants has the opportunity to network and attend workshops on topics such as market intelligence, bootstrapping, strategic partnerships and product development.
During this year’s Techno, a reporter for U of T magazine was a fly on the wall, speaking with the participants and dropping in every few days to track their progress. Some interesting observations and trends emerge that would apply to any entrepreneur looking to take their idea from the idea stage to a commercial venture.
Among the lessons learned:
*Sales isn’t just about selling widgets, it’s about being able make a compelling case for your company. If you can’t sell it to investors, you’re not going anywhere.
*Don’t be wedded to your initial idea. One participant notes 93 per cent of all businesses change their initial idea, including some of the Techno participants.
*If you start with a problem and look for a solution, rather than start with a solution and look for a problem, you’re going to be better off.
*Don’t over-estimate your potential success in your business plan. It’s good to set ambitious goals internally, but your investors will expect you to hit the numbers in your plan, so be realistic.