By David Johnson, Ph.D., MBA
I think Silicon Valley’s most valuable asset is a ruthless focus on experimenting with product- market fi t. Silicon Valley software companies have the mentality of pushing out products, getting market feedback, and then going back to the drawing board if the market responds poorly. Imperfect products are a learning experience — an experiment — rather than a reason to close shop or fire people.
As a graduate student and postdoc at Stanford in the early 2000s, I often looked with envy at friends getting rich by selling their software companies for tens of millions of dollars a year after founding. Besides the obvious financial rewards of software startups, the speed of progress blew me away. Even in academia, students who worked in software would often finish their degrees two to three years before students who slaved away at the bench. How could biotechnology, and bench-science companies in particular, possibly iterate as quickly as the software industry?