Eureka — Building an MVP and Failing
We’ve had lots of exciting developments with ExplainThisPaper that I’ll be telling you about soon.
I honestly think it’s going to blow up. But there’s a problem–
My worst nightmare is becoming a MedEd resource. Medics hate paying for things, but love thousands of hours of work bundled up into a free resource. Maybe with one of those ‘buy me a coffee’ links at the bottom (at a push).
So charging medics is a no go. And honestly, the whole point of this project is to open up science — making another paywalled resource is hardly achieving that.
So here’s what I thought: Who has money? Like lots of money?
OK cool. What can we give investors? Well investors in the Life Sciences need to understand the science around their investments, right?
The Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Business books taught me an important lesson: Test an idea –> then build it.
So I made a fake version of what I envisioned, put it into a 90 second pitch and sent it to 6 investors.
You know when you have huge expectations for something… and then it just flops?
The feedback was pretty negative. Some was overtly negative, like what the f**k is this? And why are you emailing me on a weekend, loser?
The rest was dressed up nicely, but basically said the same thing.
After a couple of calls and emails back, I worked out where I missed the mark:
1) My core assumption that Life Sciences investors are interested in reading research, was wrong. They don’t make investments by reading papers and then contacting relevant companies. They network, go to events and are introduced to interesting founders. It’s more relationships than science.
They might do some scientific due diligence, but this doesn’t really go beyond a Google Scholar search.
2) There are some investors who are really clued up on research. But they’re often PhDs/medical doctors themselves. They don’t need a 200-word summary filled with emojis. They can read the research themselves.
3) Even if they did need someone to consolidate the research for them (which they don’t) — they would need different types of information. More like a high-level document summarising the whole field, with tables comparing different interventions.
4) Some of the ballers in Private Equity do outsource scientific due diligence, but they would just pay a Key Opinion Leader — not mess about with paper summaries.
I still think this is a really good idea. But I’m also really glad we got this feedback before putting loads of effort into it.
There’s a Henry Ford quote I really like:
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.
I think with the right execution, this could be something awesome.
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