Growing A Company From Scratch

It’s our pleasure to start communicating with our readership via blog articles again after a long break of a couple of months. For you as a reader, it is also interesting to compare the perspective we had couple of months ago and now.  One can also see it as a diary of our development over time and a historical record of a company building. So stay tuned. 

Here, in this article, we would like to address what it takes to build a company from scratch, what was our journey, and for those who are interested or curious to build own businesses which kind of lessons can one have from that. To start with, let’s address the problem how everything started. 

Me as a founder was doing a master studies in Heidelberg at Heidelberg University and DKFZ. The environment was very good, very supportive but despite of this it was difficult to go through the literature to find the lab I would like to learn from. I don’t say it is impossible, it is just time consuming, and given it’s a numbers game, the chances you will have an open position at your selected target is low. The other obstacle was location, because I wanted to spend my career or at at least next career stage in Europe, and the North America was out of my choice. So this was how everything started.

The revival of this idea came during a PhD, when after finishing the project I was looking what else can I do good in my career. And doing research of course matters, but I wanted to deliver value to more people, and have indeed a real impact on them seeing the results from my work. One can build a research institute or start a business. For the first one I had no knowledge or resources, for the second it seemed pretty feasible to me. 

With this pretty naive thinking and lacking any experience, A-LabInsider was started. There is something in it being young, and having no such project before, believing you can do everything you want. And this is true, unless you know what exactly it takes and what resources you need. Or put it this way, what mindset you need. 

Let’s start with a mindset. Believing that there is no problem you cannot solve is a good thing. But what one often misses  is ability to perform the right experiments and hear correctly the information one receives. When we look back now, this is probably the most important trait that was learnt here – ability to listen and react. So coming to mindset, it is not enough to have that young excitement that comes from lack of knowledge (as a total term for the information collected over a period of time and in a set of circumstances), it is a necessary trait to stay out of your bubble. 

Someone may say it’s just a different skillset. But despite scientists are open-minded, many outsiders often notice that these deep tech people often have a problem with marketing, HR and hence sales. So the solution to this would be hiring people who have these skills, and if the problem with this lays again in a lack of skills to hire the right people, just adapt by being less wrong over time and do it again till it gets better. Of course, this is not easy, but for adventurous mind that is curious more about how is it rather whether it will be right this time, it can work out.

The next trait, that is pretty important here, is doing a research. And the research is not as for science having experiment in a Greiner plate, but the research in terms of business. Don’t get me wrong it is not about the research per se, it is about knowledge when to stop and when it is enough. People in a business school with business degrees find it easy and comfortable, while in our case somehow it turned out to be oversophisticated. And it takes time to get out of this mind modus. The same holds true for listening. Maybe given the other set of circumstances we would be way different from what we had, but these abilities to operate with least information available are the important traits of a successful business person.

Coming from the problem, the mindset and the traits necessary, the next important thing is the ability to do the things despite of fear. Some will call it risk, but in fact nobody is planning to jump from a rock unless there is a way how survive and come back with no hurt. There are probabilities and calculated risks. In fact, as Elon Musk says, if you calculate the probabilities of success the solution appears by itself. Life is a choice and if you choose to chase a bigger target, it will take you same long as chasing a smaller target. If the first path is boring and predictable, go by the other path that is unpredictable but has a higher potential. So doing the things despite of fear if that creates value will create a feedback loop which will save you and will keep moving.

The next trait would be pushing when it feels uncomfortable. It may seem somehow overlapping with a previous trait, doing the things despite of fear, but still I want to bring it separately. It is because not all your decisions will be nice and comfortable. You have to do that what is good for your business, despite relationships or your comfort zone. In fact, when you are the only one responsible for keeping the things forward, you have to push them. This is also good for you as a person, because you have to grow. If you don’t feel scary sometimes, then probably you don’t grow. This carves your managerial gene over time, such epigenetics if you want, a set of constrains.

While these everything may seem exciting, do not forget to take care of yourself. Your body is the only what you have, no you no nothing. Whether it is aerobics, more walk, less coffee or longer sleep find a way how to take care of yourself. Business is not an event, it is a process, in this marathon you have to find a way how to run without a hurt to your health. While initial push may be required, over long term you can’t keep pushing all the time, the body won’t feel the difference anymore where is a push and where is a new reality. You want to stay healthy for the next business as well, or for your family.  

The next set of features would be staying devoted to your goal, adapting and managing. No plan goes as planned. Maybe there are some lucky, smart or experienced people who made by plan, in our case it wasn’t the case. The things get prolonged, postponed, take longer than expected, you get additional troubles on the way, something else happens. But what you have to keep in mind is that what you have started from and everything else you wanted to execute. Keep those ideas in focus, iterate, adapt and manage to get it done and you will see the result of your ideas. Of course, nobody guarantees that the outcome will be as you want to be, but your task is as one person said, being less wrong over time. 

So far, these are all the components and pieces of our journey we wanted to bring. If you have any questions or some informations, advice to share, feel free to write us. Till the next article!


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A-Labinsider is a company from Berlin that offers an App to perform analysis of academic life science labs in Europe and get in touch with them directly. 


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