Hear The Hard Truth:
Your Life is at stake!
Are you a Doctoral or Post-Doctoral Researcher in STEM?
If from your Master's degree to the end of your PhD, you have not participated in a remarkable discovery that will carry your career in the Academic world for the next 30 years, YOU ARE TOASTED!
Contributing to a remarkable discovery (i.e. having your name among the authors of one or more high-impact publications) does NOT depend on YOU, your three-digit IQ, or your ability to work like a serf!
Take your destiny into your own hands from the moment you enter the Master's until the end of your PhD. During these 4 years of research, you have a lot of downtimes to use to your advantage.
Use this downtime to learn about entrepreneurship and business. Network with scientist-entrepreneurs, ask them a thousand questions and learn from them the way to your freedom.
Many opportunities outside the academic world require scientific, technological and business knowledge and skills.
And your 10 years of study and research will be of value to the World if you add the entrepreneurial-business string to your bow.
It is up to you to take advantage of these opportunities, but to do so you must accept to mourn the loss of being an Academic researcher (and your sweet dream of winning the Nobel Prize) and prepare yourself to leave the academic world and its miserable salaries!
Don't wait until the day after your thesis defence to ask yourself the question of what to do next.
- 60% of all PhDs end up unemployed at some point in their career (Nature).
- PhDs who do postdocs make less money and achieve less overall in their careers compared to PhDs who do not do postdocs (Nature Biotechnology).
- Full-time professorships are at an all-time low because they are being replaced by low-paying adjunct professorships (Science).
Scientific research is a priesthood, an activity of monks or Amish living in a community where you have to accept to erase your identity and personal ambitions for the benefit of a higher cause - the production of new knowledge for Humanity -, well that's the bullshit told to the ants put in servitude by the system.
The reality is that you have to sacrifice yourself to build a pyramid for the glory of the PI (Principal Investigator) or the Mandadarin-Pharaoh (Professor) who strangely enough spreads his name everywhere while faking scientific humility (and reaps all the laurels).
The Academic system is broken. PhDs are no longer useful in the Academia world.
Outside the Academic world, do industrial companies have a need for PhDs?
NO, and for two reasons.
You may believe there are opportunities in the industry, and by industry, you dream of a big company having R&D activities.
Well, dreams and beliefs are in Santa Clause's domain of expertise, not of a Scientist.
1) In the great contemporary kingdoms of capitalism ie big corporations, where a kind of aristocratic nobility reigns, your PhD is like a repulsive smell.
2) Industrial companies, whether large or small, no longer do R&D in-house. They outsource their R&D to private laboratories for very specific tasks and these private laboratories do not need PhDs, they need technicians.
The large industrial companies, as they are very rich, in addition to subcontracting or outsourcing R&D, continuously scan the market and identify the emergence of innovative startups to buy them out (or establish a partnership to benefit from startups' innovation). This strategy (letting R&D and innovation be done by startups) is much more profitable for the large company than doing its R&D in-house.
👉Nevertheless, YOU with your PhD are very valuable as the Founder-CEO of your Startup!
There is now an opportunity for you PhDs to create deep tech startups. Something that didn't exist in my era because the startup ecosystem didn't exist, and by ecosystem, it comes down to 3 points only:
- A supply of capital in all its forms: private investors (business angels, venture builder companies, private incubators and accelerators, venture capital investment companies) and material resources (work offices or laboratories) and intellectual resources (training, consulting, coaching).
- A pro-startup mindset: today, people accept to join a startup at the idea stage (pre-seed), to work on it without being paid, with the promise of being co-founders and owning a share of the future company... as long as the challenge is exciting!
- A legal and fiscal environment that favours the two previous points:
- the emergence of flexible business entities [ Limited Liability Company (US), Private Company Limited by Shares (UK) or the Société par Actions Simplifiées (Fr) ] fitting with the startup needs.
- laws and regulations governing the issue of free shares* by startups (to reward co-founders and all those who work for free on a project), tax breaks for investors
- business lawyers and accountants who understand the specificities of startups.
*The story of graffiti artist made $200 million overnight, thanks to Facebook. David Choe accepted free shares of Facebook instead of cash to paint Facebook offices. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/07/how-facebook-graffiti-artist-david-choe-earned-200-million.html
Today, the supply of industrial property from universities and the supply of private and public money are far greater than the demand from PhDs wanting to create Deep Tech startups. It's as if someone had scattered banknotes in a field and no one was there to pick them up!
In France, I see too often announcements like "deep tech startup seeks his/her CEO". It's absurd!
Give yourself a huge slap and wake up, liberate yourself from your mental prison because yes you are in serfdom for an inhuman institution and to the glory of a Pharaoh.
What will you wait for? The physical death of your Pharaoh with the hope to take his place? Are you crazy or what? With the increase in life expectancy and the extension of emeritus positions, you will never be able to shine like a Pasteur or a Marie Curie! Those days are over.
Are you afraid of throwing yourself into the unknown by leaving the miserable world you know, the academic world? It is perfectly normal to be afraid, what is abnormal is not trying to overcome your fear. And this does not mean jumping into the void of the unknown, good entrepreneurs take small, highly calculated risks.
[ In order not to bias my vision by my own experience, I interviewed more than a hundred young hard science researchers (PhD students, freshly graduated PhDs and post-docs) on what prevented them from leaving the academic world. I came to the following conclusion: among young researchers who would like to leave academia, 85% are terrified of the unknown (source of income, social status, incompetence). And above all, they are terrified by the idea that it is a single ticket and returning to the academic world (at least in France) will be forbidden to them once they have left the moving train. The simple fact of not having the possibility of returning in the academic world is one of the mental barriers that I have identified in the creation of deep tech start-ups by PhDs. ]
And that's simply by removing your blinders, taking an interest in the startups around you, talking to the founders of deep tech startups in your university's incubators, reading books and consuming video content on entrepreneurship ... and you'll already be 50% of the way there! By doing so, you will realise there is another world waiting for you, where you will be free to fulfil your potential, a world where your PhD has value.
CALL TO ACTION
To create a Tech or Deep Tech startup with the best chance of success, you must first acquire the mindset and skillset of an Entrepreneur.
Contact me for a chat, we'll have a cool Zoom with our coffee mugs, without any tongue in cheek, I'll help you to see more clearly.
The 7 commandments of the PhD student who wants to leave the Acedmic world to create his tech startup
- Talk to your thesis or lab director, express your wish to start a company with the results of the lab (and ask for his support), and if your research is in the fundamental field, know that Research Directors (always) have connections or opportunities sleeping in their drawers ...
- Talk to the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) and/or the startup incubator of your university to discuss business opportunities with them. TTO manage and commercialise university patents; incubators support start-ups resulting from academic research.
- Talk to founders of startups from your university's incubator to discuss their entrepreneurial journey, their motivations, the difficulties they have encountered and the positives too.
- Talk to founders of startups from other universities in your country or other countries.
- Before the end of your thesis, read key books on entrepreneurship and marketing with a startup focus to assimilate the common language of entrepreneurship, marketing and innovation. Write to me, and I will be happy to provide you with a list of key books to read.
- Don't waste your time and money on entrepreneurial or business management courses offered by business schools (MBAs, Executive Masters, Specialized Masters and other fancy degrees). These courses are worth NOTHING. They are designed by academics disconnected from the field. None of them has ever created a product or a company, and none of them has ever sold even a stick of chewing gum in his life. These "Business School" courses are far too expensive (and they won't even open the doors of the big companies for you to find a job there with a good salary - unless you buy a +$100,000 MBA from Harvard! -), and above all, they are useless! You'll be bombarded with economics, accounting, corporate finance, project management, HR management, corporate law, strategy, marketing and sales courses that are totally irrelevant and therefore inapplicable to startups. The startup is a separate entity from the corporate world. The startup is an opportunistic organisation formed to solve a problem with an innovative solution and seeking to establish a viable and scalable business model. You can of course learn to create a startup, but you must do it with experts in the creation of innovative products (goods and/or services) and not with business theorists! And this training in startup creation must be done by doing, the same way you learned to do scientific research at the bench with the help of other PhD students and post-docs.
- Focus on creating a proposition that will be of value to a target audience that has a critical problem. And so if you understood that last sentence, it means that you must first identify a good problem to solve (possibly with tech from your research or tech from other people's research lying dormant in the drawers of your University TTO, or knowledge and know-how you developed during your research).
Bonus: How to identify a good problem?
A good problem means that it is worthwhile - economically speaking - to devote effort and resources to solving it.
A good problem has a high criticality. Criticality is assessed with these 3 parameters:
- Severity: a good problem has a high severity as its negative consequences are important for those concerned.
- Occurrence: a good problem happens (in space and time) at a high frequency.
- Demography: a good problem (may) affect a significant number of people (this number is continuously growing or has a significant potential for growth, ideally).
E² - Épistémê Entrepreneur