Back in June, we were invited to participate in Uhlmann’s startup competition,  as part of their “Pharmazing Days” conference. We won it. It was not an easy achievement, given the exceptional quality of the startups handpicked by Uhlmann, so why did we win? Or more generally, what does it take to win this kind of competition? 

Like everything in life and business, the answer is a combination of elements, some of which are obvious, some of which are not. Yes, you have to have a charismatic presenter, such as our COO Damian, and you have to have a compelling story, and an outstanding product. But so does every other competing startup, or they wouldn’t have been invited in the first place. So what are the not-so-obvious elements necessary to win?

First of all, in my opinion, you must be credible. This means that you must have real, proven, hands-on experience in the market for which the competition was created. In our specific case: Pharma. It takes the jury less than a minute to figure out if your company is really working in Pharma or if the nice pictures in your presentation are taken from the Internet. At deevio, we often get asked to participate in startup competitions, and we generally decline because more often than not, the focus of the competition is not related to our markets. Deevio is all about Pharma and Automotive. Why would we participate in a competition focused on renewable energies, or mobility? Rather than participating in too many events, we prefer to select the very few ones where we really have something new to say; where we are the experts and innovators.

Second of all, in the market where you decide to compete, you must be solving a real, painful problem. This is certainly not a new idea or concept, but many startups develop a technology first (maybe at a university or at a research center) and only later try to find a problem that their technology can solve. At deevio, we solve one problem: end-of-line quality control. We are very specific, very focused and very good at solving this one problem, and the problem is huge. It is a problem that is especially prevalent in Pharma, which is why we decided to participate at Uhlmann’s Pharmazing Days.

Lastly, it’s not enough just to know how to solve this problem. You must have solved it before for real, in a real manufacturing facility for a real customer. You need to have been there, done that. You have learnt how to talk about the problem and its solution, which metrics are critical and which are not. For example, when we started Deevio we were paranoid about the accuracy of our software. Our number one concern was: could we really achieve 99.99% accuracy at customer X?. Working with customers, we soon learned (and we learned it the hard way) that yes, accuracy is important, but false positive rates are even more important. And now our number one question has become: what is the false positive rate at 99.9% accuracy at customer X? 

In closing, I want to extend a big thank you to Uhlmann for organizing such an amazing event. We were impressed by how clearly and seriously Uhlmann is working on innovation, both internally and externally, and we are proud to be a small part of this effort. It is indeed (Pharm) Amazing!!!!!

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019