Start-ups: How, when and why we hire outside guns
Consultants are expensive by the hour, but may not need long to deliver essential insights to your start-up. Even if your CEO is a legal expert, your start-up will still need to hire several lawyers. When you look for outside help, it’s ok to ask other founders for advice. Chemistry is essential when hiring a consultant for your start-up. Sometimes an outsider has a better chance at seeing what your company stands for. These were among the take-home-messages at the Brew Your Own: Guns For Hire on May 5th 2021 hosted by Copenhagen Science City in collaboration with Danish Life Science Cluster.
By Jes Andersen
Have a real conversation with your lawyer
Most lawyers are honest enough to tell you whether they are any good in the field you need advice for, and if your start-up is targeting the health and care sector there is no shortage of specialisation fields. That has been a chief insight for Robert Lauritzen who is CEO and Co-founder of the start-up Cerebriu, which is piloting an AI based technology to aid diagnosis in medical imagery. During his start-up journey, he has needed expertise in corporate and patent law, medical regulatory issues, public/ private partnerships and much more. His chief advice to fellow founders looking for legal advisors is to find someone you trust.
It is essential to find a lawyer you trust so much, that you feel comfortable enough to have a real conversation. That being said; you also need to be cost conscious. Always ask yourself how much of the work you can do yourself”: Robert Lauritzen, CEO and Co-founder, Cerebriu
Be careful what you ask for
One way to be cost conscious, is to be very clear about what you need done, says Claudia Blomgren-Hansen, attorney and owner of LIFE SCIENCE PLUS Advokater. In her, Lauritzen found a lawyer who understands the pitfalls and challenges of life science. She invites clients to share as much detail as possible about their business, to help her understand what the business needs.
A lawyer will always try to give you what you asked for. If you ask an open-ended question, you are likely to get an open ended, and expensive, answer. On the plus side; You shouldn’t be shy to ask your lawyer for help in phrasing the assignment”: Claudia Blomgren-Hansen, owner, LIFE SCIENCE PLUS Advokater.
Forgiven for failing with the right team
Bringing novel pharmaceutical inventions to market is inherently risky. Investors know this, so they will reward founders who show an ability to minimize risks by getting the team right for every step of the way. Rizwan Hussain has found that hiring consultants can be a cost effective way to handle this challenge. He is CEO at Arxx Therapeutics, a start-up developing novel therapies targeting fibrotic disease. He told the audience, that the first thing the Arxx founders did, was to lay out a roadmap for which consultants to hire for each step.
Nobody will blame you if the drug turns out not to work, so long as you made sure to do the killer experiment and fail fast. What investors will not forgive is if you failed to hire the right capabilities for executing every step along the way. One way to find the right consultant is to give them a small initial job to test the chemistry” : Rizwan Hussain, CEO, Arxx Therapeutics
How to afford +20 years of experience
Speaking of chemistry: A crucial step for a prospective drug is to advance from the laboratory production method, which typically yields grams, to an industrial scale measured in kilos or even tonnes. Gunhild Klarskov Kristiansen is CEO at CMC Value Advisory. Her company specialises in moving protein based pharmaceuticals from lab to market. Arxx is one of her clients, and she advises founders to look for consultants, who have experience, not just in management, but also on the shop floor.
For some tasks, you are looking for experts with 20 years or more of experience. Not many start-ups can afford to have these on staff. Consultants are a scalable solution for when your company runs up against the kind of task that requires deep know-how”: Gunhild Klarskov Kristiansen, CEO, CMC Value Advisory.
Don’t startle the brain
The brand of a company compares to the face and voice of a person. It is what your customer should recognise and trust. Every interaction a customer has with your product, your staff and your organisation should have the same basic message. The same look and feel. Faraz ibn Ijaz however, feels that too many companies neglect to focus on their brand. Faraz is the Founder & CEO of Neurofy, a neurobranding agency that has specialised in branding based on scientific insights into neuroscience, behavioural psychology and intelligence.
The human brain is built to be uncomfortable with changes in the surroundings. That’s why every image and every interaction your company has with consumers should have the same look and feel. A branding consultant can help you remember, that if your message is not consistent, your customers will not be consistent either”: Faraz ibn Ijaz, Founder & CEO, Neurofy.
Take the first steps for free
With so many sub- specialisations, finding the right consultant for any job is a jungle. You can ask Google, your network or even your competitors. You could also cut through the underbrush, and ask the Danish Business Hub system. Claus Birkedal is a Business Developer with Copenhagen Business Hub. Like his colleagues there, he has years of experience in industry and is a start-up founder in his own right. The hub provides free-of-charge business advice for your start-up and scale-up. They will also help you specify your needs and can refer you to specialist consultants.
We are not affiliated with any consultants, so our advice is impartial. In addition, our consultants have backgrounds within almost all industry verticals, so we should be able to provide a business advisor to suit even very specific needs. Once we have helped you find your specialist, my advice is to prepare well, come in with clear objectives and ask for steady progress meetings”: Claus Birkedal, Business Developer, Copenhagen Business Hub