Chairman Michel Chu suggested that startup teams can first get funding from angel investors at the preliminary stage to assist the startup companies with their layout planning.
Yang-Ming GLORIA Enterprise Lecture 10: When Startup Meets Venture Capital
Michel Chu, the partner of Acorn Campus Taiwan and the chairman of Vsense Medtech. Co., Ltd., was specially invited to the first round of the Bio-Navigator Lecture in 2020 held by the Global Research & Industry Alliance (GLORIA) National Yang-Ming University. Chairman Chu has a wealth of experience in enterprise strategic planning and acquisition. With his unique experience and eye for investment in the biomedical industry and solutions to startup companies’ funding gap issues, Chairman Chu raised concepts that are different from those in the past. His distinctive and excellent points of view have brought new inspirations to the industry seniors and students and professors of National Yang-Ming University attending the lecture.
The threshold criteria for starting a medical device or drug research and development company is very high with conditions including funding, talents, equipment, and research topics to be considered. The medical regulations differ in each country and are strict; hence products must be tested, analyzed, verified repeatedly. Only when products are 100 percent in every aspect can they be listed publicly. For this reason, people hastily starting a business without making a plan from the start for target markets, experimental design, and team cooperation fail quickly. But how do we make a 100% plan? Chairman Chu claimed that the first condition is to find people who have experience and truly know about the values of the techniques and marketing. Only by cooperating with such people for product development can we find successful business models.
Dean Chen-Huan Chen of Faculty of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, and Associate Dean Tzu-Hao Cheng of Research and Development have also attended the lecture to offer their advice.
Whether a biomedical startup company can grow continuously often depend on the state of fundraising, management of the professional manager, and the competitive advantages of the medical innovations. Although there are high-quality talents in Taiwan developing medical technologies, Chairman Chu is more supportive of doctors to start businesses. This is not only because doctors are smart and have clinical experience, but mainly because they are on the first scene of medical treatment closely observing and exploring patients’ needs, basing research on clinical data, and providing accurate and correct information. Only this way can they achieve their dream to cure patients together with patients or medical device users.
President Yu-Te Wu of Research & Development recognized Chairman Chu’s views on entrepreneurial success and bestowed upon him a Certificate of Appreciation after the lecture.
Venture capital firms in Taiwan mainly pays attention to startup companies that are undergoing expansion, that is, a company’s products can only attract attention after they have been researched, developed, and tested, or even after a small-scale revenue and business volume have been gained by the products. Venture capital firms will only think of investing in a startup company when it expects this company to develop rapidly within a year. However, startup companies often fail or give up before venture capital firms decide to invest in them. Chairman Chu took pregnancy testing kits as an example and explained that the same patented invention can meet different markets’ demands through different areas and various marketing and design. The biomedical industry can, therefore, create a new value with high returns, making investors willing to provide funding.
A group photo was taken after the lecture. Front row from the left: Professor Chih-Cheng Chen, Professor Tzyh-Chang Hwang, Chairman Michel Chu, President Yu-Te Wu of Research & Development, and Professor Ueng-Cheng Yang.
Back row from the left: Professor Feng-Yi Yang, Professor Tse-Ying Liu, Chief Executive Officer Hsien-Chih Pei, Chairman Pei-Ying Hwang, Professor Chi-Ying Huang, and Associate Professor How-Foo Chen.
In the end, Chairman Chu recommended the biomedical startup companies to consider North America or China the target markets, not just Taiwan. The final goal of commercialization, after all, is to make profits, and Taiwan is just not big enough a market. We must, therefore, fully understand the target country’s regulations, medical habits, and insurances before getting on with the product design and marketing. Perhaps we can also focus on the medical habits that can be reproduced with more ease and used universally. For instance, the improvement made to the operation model of intensive care units would not vary significantly due to different country conditions. Also, the market has a relatively more significant ability to grow and the chance to succeed is higher.