We’d like to introduce you to one of our most recent Accelerator graduates and cohort winner intoDNA, they are a team of scientists focused on developing a new ‘litmus test’ for DNA damage. We chatted to Magda about her experience on the BioCity Accelerator Programme and what her team have learnt from the process.
The programme was really, really intense from our perspective (especially mine, when I travelled back and forth to the UK every week from Poland). At first, we felt it was nearly impossible to make any progress. Trying to run our business intoDNA on a daily basis and spend about two days travelling was really challenging (I can show you my weekly schedule!). However, I feel we did quite well, it was a fast learning curve – we understood very quickly that managing our time, sharing tasks and optimising how we got to the workshops was critical.
During the customer discovery process you need to carry out interviews with your customers. Sounds simple but I found it really difficult to ask the right questions, in the right way and properly interpret their answers. It was really hard to be objective, especially when I was testing a hypothesis that I was really emotionally attached to; we were getting loads of data and in time had less and less clue what to do with it! I cannot imagine getting to the stage where we currently are without the support of the BioCity coaches during our 1-2-1 sessions.
Time was also a barrier for intoDNA. We found that people, being busy, did not want to sacrifice their time and answer all of our questions – but we kept ‘running through brick walls’ and because of our stubbornness (that was acquired in time) we eventually started getting what we wanted. We all learnt that in our case, it was much better to meet with the customers in person, rather than talk on the phone.
When we arrived at MediCity, Nottingham on the first day of the programme, we had a list of assumptions in our heads (I do not think we were fully aware that these were assumptions at that time…)! We thought some of these assumptions would be un-discreditable, so we were really surprised when during the interviews we learned that we were completely wrong about what the customers care about.
It was hard to leave some hypotheses behind and to accept that some of the features of our technology, that meant a lot to us, didn’t mean anything to our customers.
During the programme we did a lot of work to define intoDNA’s target audience and perform thorough market segmentation; we started with 17 potential customer segments and ended up with two. We found that our customer segments were much more complicated than we first thought and we needed to address them individually and be very specific in formulating the value
proposition for each of them.
Yes. One of the major challenges I faced was the transformation from being a scientist to becoming a “serious” entrepreneur. Joining the programme and learning the customer discovery process was the catalyst for the change. It took my science assumptions and made them real, I suddenly saw my science as an entrepreneur, it was a great motivational factor. In general, The Accelerator Programme made us stop being naive about the business. It taught us that building a business is an analytical process and that each element needs to be considered and planned, just like running a scientific project! Now, my head is an entrepreneur but heart is a scientist; the perfect combination…
Inspired by intoDNA’s story and ready for the challenge? Apply to our next Accelerator programme, held in both Nottingham and Glasgow, it will help you to create a business model, identify gaps in your business and meet our valuable network, so you hit the ground running. Apply now.
TAGS: Accelerator, Entrepreneur, Incubator, Innovation, MediCity, Start-up, Tech, VC, intoDNA