Empowered Entrepreneurs Offer Tips for Successful Tech Business Start-Ups

“Great ideas are not the key to success. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but empowered entrepreneurs are rare.”

That’s the conclusion of James A. Hayward, chairman, president and CEO of Applied DNA Sciences. Hayward was one of two successful entrepreneurs who shared their stories with scores of participants in the January Entrepreneurs’ Network workshop at Brookhaven Lab titled “Stories from the Front: The Entrepreneurial Experience.” The purpose of the network and the event was to bring together entrepreneurs – present and prospective – and those who work with them and offer both inspiration and food for thought on their journey of innovation.

With more than 20 years of experience in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, life science, and consumer product industries, Hayward’s company is responding to the “alarming” worldwide counterfeiting crisis – estimated to cost $1.7 trillion by 2015 — with a “disruptive technology,” plant-based “green” DNA markers.

“We have an enormous share of the European money-moving market,” he said, “and 100 percent successful prosecutions.”

The company’s SigNature® DNA markers are patented and applied in over a billion products throughout the world, helping to preserve the quality and integrity of products from pharmaceutics to cosmetics. They will soon be working with Martin Guitars and also the U.S. military, which is having problems with counterfeit microchips.

Great ideas are not the key to success. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but empowered entrepreneurs are rare.

In his talk, which he called “Building a Biotech Security Company One Strand of DNA at a time,” Hayward described himself as a scientist who always wanted to go into business, and who learned quickly to choose his heroes and friends wisely.

Meanwhile, Tyler Roye, CEO of GroupGifting.com, a company founded a year ago to “change the game” in gift giving, is a staunch proponent of the “Lean Startup” philosophy.

A veteran of several other startup ventures, Roye learned early on about Lean Startup, an approach to building businesses born in Silicon Valley, but whose principles were established at Japanese companies like Toyota. The Lean Startup process focuses on rapidly creating prototypes and business models to test market assumptions and quickly get customer feedback. It advocates eliminating any activity that doesn’t produce value as the shortest path to creating market traction. The philosophy embraces “actionable metrics,” which allow for market research during product development.

“It is not about cost, it’s about speed,” he said. “And it’s for any organization facing uncertainty about what customers will want. One of main reasons that new businesses fail is premature scaling.  The Lean Startup approach is ‘Nail it, then scale it.’”

For example, Roye pointed out that tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds lost $450 million on smokeless cigarettes because they did not connect with what their customers actually wanted.

Representatives of the economic development community across Long Island participated, including the Accelerate Long Island partnership.

“We at Brookhaven National Laboratory are committed to building a sustainable ecosystem for technology-based business innovation in the region — and for the U.S. economy”, said Walter Copan, managing director of Technology Commercialization and Partnerships at Brookhaven Lab.  “This relationship network across New York, including the investment community, corporations, and economic development leadership represented by Accelerate Long Island, Brookhaven Town and our other regional and State leaders are supporting a vital entrepreneurial environment with all the right ingredients to breed business growth.” 

The next Entrepreneurs’ Network workshop will be held on March 18th at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the topic will be “Intellectual Property – What Entrepreneurs and Technology Companies Need to Know”.

Brookhaven National Laboratory, in partnership with the Small Business Administration, Stony Brook University, and the New York State Small Business Development Center at Stony Brook developed the Entrepreneurs’ Network and the Entrepreneurs’ Foundation Workshop Series to support entrepreneurs, scientists and members of the business community interested in starting and growing technology companies.

The Entrepreneurs’ Network is co-sponsored by Hoffmann and Baron, LLP and by Nixon Peabody, LLP, with the support of the NY State Small Business Development Center and Stony Brook University.

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