Posted by: Audrey Erbes | May 30, 2010

Be Proactive in Your Career and Funding Planning and Execution

Have you wondered how the job market is going as well as outlook for funding the start up in which you’re involved. Indications are that more industry jobs are opening up but start up companies are facing severe limitations in finding initial funding. Here are this week’s jobs (right click to open list in new window.)

What is one to do?

New Position Searches

If you’re looking for a new position or wanting to transition into the vibrant industry known variously as biotech, biopharma, medical device, diagnostics, personalized medicine, and research tools, there are several things you can do:

  • Position yourself, experience and background to drive home point why you are the person who can deliver solutions to a company/department’s challenges—you are positioning yourself as product in highly competitive market and need to research the companies of interest and go after positions where you can differentiate yourself. Just as product promotion does for a product, you need to do the same for yourself.
  • Consider taking some courses to fill in gaps in your background and/or prepare you for with new skills needed on the job. This is best done with courses designed to give you applied skills taught by industry experts actively working in the field. (See June 1st free UCSC Ext. in Santa Clara Bioscience program overview below.)
  • If you want to attain a new degree, carefully consider the many educational competitors and research their reputation for placement. Be sure you don’t pay for the higher priced programs of brand name universities unless they can deliver a better product than many of the state schools with more reasonable pricing. Ask grads in the field of interest if it were the quality of the education or the brand name that got them their new jobs. (There are many new programs promising quick degrees which aren’t any better than what we called “diploma mills” in my youth.) Be a discerning customer and check references. You don’t want to spend your educational dollars for a degree which you find out later isn’t respected by hiring managers. Also remember getting a “piece of paper” in order to be qualified for promotion inside a company can be very different proposition than gaining respected qualifications for entering a new company.
  • Network, network, network! Attend as many industry meetings and programs relevant to your interests and field for which you have time and financial resources. This should be a continuing process along with courses to keep you sharp in skills and relationships over your life time. This advice applies for individuals growing their careers as well as companies looking for funding. Successful company CEOs spend a lot of time developing their directory of contacts and investing in real relationships.
  • Apply for positions selectively—those in companies and positions which you have researched, where you have contacts to get your resume in front of the hiring manager, and for which you can offer a compelling “message” why you offer a solution to their challenges.

Seeking Funding

For those entrepreneurs and business development professionals seeking funding, experts in the trenches tell us that you should:

  • Pursue government grants, SBIR, Department of Defense, SBA, new discovery tax credit funding in this time frame.
  • Research VCs to find out which ones are actually funding new ventures. Roger Longman (then at Elsevier/Windhover) told us last fall that “perhaps 50% of top-tier VCs were getting close to empty.” Performance of VCs in general is uninspiring so be discerning about which ones you pursue and where you invest your expectations.
  • Recognize that big corporate VCs (especially Pharma) are where the action is today and are replacing traditional private VCs for the funding of new ventures. That doesn’t mean they are offering the same upfront or deal flows offered prior to 2008. But they require exciting “wow factor” technologies and products (preferably platforms that will produce many products) to overcome their deficient pipelines and counter precipitous revenue falloff resulting from their blockbuster patent expirations.
  • Don’t give up your “day job” or personal funding source until you get the funding.
  • Network, network and network some more. Speaking to your peers and establishing real relationships will provide the insights you need to survive this downturn. Identify the “watering holes” of the folks you want in your network and go there. These may be banking investment meetings like UBS in September 2010 or JP Morgan Jan. 2010, local industry programs including BayBio listed each month on this blog, industry sector meetings in medtech and drugs and medical conferences for your field.
  • Be sure you are knowledgeable about the changing environment for success with regard to doing deals and collaborations. Have you developed your business model for success? Does your technology/product profile meet the test of being a solution for a major market need, is there a sufficient potential revenue stream generated by critical market need, is your product sufficiently differentiated, will it be reimbursed, do you own the intellectual property, do you have the management team to accomplish the business plan, and is there a viable regulatory pathway?

Upcoming Programs to Consider (All Programs List)

Applied Learning Courses

Yesterday, I listed the upcoming Bay Area programs for the coming month. I’ve subsequently learned of some additions which are provided in updated listing on my blog.

I wanted to add the upcoming free UCSC Extension course/program overview occurring on June 1st for those of you looking for applied learning and skills which you can take to work and utilize on Monday after the class!

UCSC Extension (classes in Santa Clara), Free Program, Tuesday Evening, June 1, 2010, Topic: “Free Bioscience Program Information and Q&A Session,” Speaker, Michelle Ragozzino, Ph.D., Executive Academic Bioscience Director, register and see details at

New Program Listings Related to Entrepreneurs



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