Break Your Mental Chains and Rob the Bank!
From your serfdom to your liberation and independence, it's up to you!
Why are bio-pharmaceutical startups in a situation of serfdom?
Serfs for whose benefit? From the pharmaceutical industry, of course.
Why couldn't a bio-pharmaceutical startup become a big pharma?
Whereas in all other industries including older ones and those requiring huge seed capital such as automotive, aerospace, and aeronautics ... we see emerging new entrants, startups that in a few years become leaders.
There are two reasons for this:
1) Evidence-based Medicine
A bio-pharmaceutical startup must go through preclinical and clinical trials to be allowed to market its drug or treatment. The purpose of these trials is to scientifically prove the value of a new drug or treatment. This is called Evidence-based Medicine (EbM). Wow, who can be against it?!
Except that this approach is not nearly as rigorous and solid in practice. I will not develop this point further, the debates exist and are lively within the scientific community. I invite those interested to take a look at the "Limitations and Criticism" on the Wikipedia page of EbM.
Above all, this approach is extremely expensive and time-consuming. It will cost hundreds of millions of euros and dedicate decades to go through all the stages from preclinical trials to phase III clinical trials to finally hope to bring your innovations to the benefit of patients.
Of course, no startup has the means for such imperial investments.
This is where specialized VCs come into play who will invest a huge check in the startup. This leads to very strong dilutions of the founding shareholders and dispossesses them of the ownership and control of their company.
Then, once the biotechnology or the pharmaceutical drug has reached phase III, a big pharma can pick the ripe fruit by buying out the VC majority shareholders (and the minority founding shareholders), the startup and its industrial property.
You should know that EbM was not historically invented and implemented by Academic researchers and university physicians/clinicians, but imposed by the pharmaceutical industry!
One cannot of course - legally - ignore clinical trials. And even I, the capitalist revolutionary, wouldn't want a drug or treatment that hasn't been thoroughly tested and validated.
However, some strategies and tactics can bypass sacrosanct clinical trials while allowing new drugs or treatments to be thoroughly tested and validated. Given that each bio-pharma startup is a unique entity, we cannot here indicate a general solution to be applied for all. These bypass strategies and tactics are decided in secret, with a team having the mindset of a gang of professional robbers.
2) Manufacturing and Distribution
We tell the founders of bio-pharmaceutical startups that the manufacture of biotherapies or drugs including their packaging (galenic, conditioning, packaging) must be done according to the rules of the art (GMP - Good Manufacturing Practices) and that their distribution (in the points of sale: pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, supermarkets...) requires HUGE infrastructures and commercial capacities (marketing, communication, sales forces...) that only Big Pharmas have. Hence the absolute necessity of establishing partnerships with Big Pharma.
It's a fairy tale we tell to bio-pharma founders to put them to sleep ... just like the Sleeping Beauty waiting for her "VC/Big-Pharma" Prince Charming.
These past years, we saw the emergence of the DNVB* FoodTechs who, not having the obligation to onboard the Evidence-based Medicine train, manage to manufacture food products (that we eat ... well, we also eat oral medications!), package them and distribute them all over the world! These DNVBs have VCs on board (with impressive fundraising rounds) that reasonably dilute the founders, so they remain owners and managers of their company. And these DNVBs can also have partners, industrial giants, for manufacturing and distribution, but they are real partners and not spoilers!
*DNVB = Digitally Native Vertical Brand.
DNVBs are BtoC or even DtoC (Direct to Consumer) companies (startups) that market a new brand by controlling the entire value chain from manufacturing to distribution directly to consumers. The whole process benefits from great digitalization. There are DNVB companies in nearly every type of physical product (food, beverage, cosmetics, textile, home furniture...).
Example: the company Feed, founded by Anthony Bourdon, a lawyer by training who revolutionized the market for cereal bars held by the giants of the food industry: https://www.feed.co/
Can bio-pharmaceutical startups flip the script?
The first obstacle comes from the founders of bio-pharma startups themselves. They are university scientists who have been deformed by their long initial education and training. They are idealistic people, dedicated to the cause, they only see the problem they want to solve and they docilely accept being put into serfdom - because that is the rule of the game and they are good people, people who follow rules and procedures - if in the end, patients can benefit from their treatment. And they will be satisfied with a little prestige in return for their dedication (a chocolate medal from a minister here, and a glowing article in the national or international press there).
The second obstacle? Well, there isn't.
The revolution must therefore begin in the psyche of the bio-pharma startup founders, but also of the leaders and researchers of universities and research institutions. These actors must revolt and no longer accept this status quo and seek by all means to circumvent the sacrosanct straight line of biopharmaceutical development! Especially since today, they finally have the weapons to do so.
Since the invention and worldwide diffusion of the Internet, and the democratization of its access by personal computers, connected smartphones and tablets, any emerging company, whatever the sector, can address end-users directly.
By addressing end-users directly, I mean anything related to the emerging business. We can chat with end-users, we can sell to end-users, we can ask them to join you to defend a cause of your company, we can ask them to finance a project ... everything. You just speak to their heart (admittedly, this requires some talent and know-how).
This allows, at a minimum, to have stronger bargaining power against VCs and Big Pharma, and at a maximum, to control from start to finish the entire value chain of the development and marketing of new drugs, treatments, and even medical technologies, and all independently.
The DNVBs showed us that it was possible ... to rob the bank! We now have the user manual.