by Scott Hampton on September 30th, 2014

The last few months I've been on both sides of the table (not at the same time) in seven investment or early-phase acquisition negotiations.

Much as I find university tech transfer offices burdensome, usually they know what negotiation is.

Independent inventors, be they civilians or practicing medical professionals, are another matter. They confuse the current value of the idea with the illusionary idealized value of the intangible product in the distant future.

Here's the question if you are on the side receiving the money (unless you are actually drowning in offers, in which case, godspeed your pillage): Does the amount of money offered let you get through enough milestones to leave you with the hope of an acceptable return at exit?

That's it.

If you are sitting there and thinking about how the investors, who didn't do anything after all, are going to own the bulk of the future success, then you will lose out. Seriously.

You can not sit in early phase with your patent and a business plan thinking that it is valuable. There is no way something unproven is worth millions of dollars up front - nope. It might be worth many millions of dollars in a few years, after risk-tolerant investors share lots of hard-earned money that they have better uses for. But only after people with esoteric skill sets burn through lots of that money to navigate the fragile raft of your idea through the rocky rapids of product development, then the doldrums of early market introduction, and then - in defiance of all odds, somehow manage to ACTUALLY MAKE IT WORK PROFITABLY.

60% of all projects fail utterly, and another 30% kinda-sorta break even. Most things just don't break out and become wildly profitable. Do your homework and google around and find the figures yourself.

SO: If you are looking at your small share at the end, and thinking it's unfair, then you aren't thinking about the current value proposition: which is ALL RISK. That's what smart people see in early phase investments. Thousands of ways to lose all their money, uncertaincy around the few possible ways to get to ROI, and the odds are not in the investor's favor.

Remember that across all the venture capital investments in the last decades, the collective ROI isn't any better than a savings account. That's what the investors know.

So stop worrying about dilution. If you can get money in this very competitive economy, push to end up with enough at the end. That way, IF it succeeds, you win. If you let those dollar signs in the future get into your eyes now, that's your problem. You won't get funded.

by Scott Hampton on August 9th, 2014

In the corporate career world, enthusiasm is suspect. It implies an emotional attachment of some sort.

When you run your own show, enthusiasm is vital. That emotional attachment will keep you going through the inevitable hard times, and let you see your way to success.

by Scott Hampton on June 29th, 2014

Let's see. I'm wired funny, it used to be called "Asperger's" but it's now called "Autistic Spectrum" so I am really astonishingly bad at names and faces. According to the Win Friends and Influence People theory of quintessentially American success, that's a death knell. 

I've been talking to a lot of other founders and startup people lately to find out what their alledged handicap is. Lots of dyslexia, a pretty good sample of synesthesias, OCDs, panic attack sufferers, and several other Aspi's.  And I'm hazarding that a lot of mild to moderate narcissism is at play... 

Most common: depression, bipolar, or some other "mood disorder".  Usually a combination, in fact.

In fact, of the 22 founders of biotech or medtech founders I've spoken to about this since the fall of 2012, more than half of us are on at least one medication for these things. 

I propose that experience of distress is helpful for a founder. A lifetime of mental practice dealing with being different, feeling like an outsider, or dealing with extended anxiety may be the best training for an entrepreneur.

Starting a new venture around an idea that has little market validation is, when you get down to it, a bit unhinged. I once started a venture with an idea that had only theoretical demonstration of possible feasibility. Clearly I'm not normal.

In my case, thanks to childhood sexual abuse, I have struggled with depression for years. I have great meds, thank you, and they work for my situation, and I'm still in the game. There's a lot of evidence that melancholics are more realistic, which has some real benefits if you know how to deal with it.

I was overjoyed recently when I found out that my latest round of low energy levels were due to thyroid problems. That's EASY. Bacterial meningitis almost killed me, a drunk driver almost killed me: thyroid problems are pretty much routine medicine. This is almost sorted out. 

But.

Starting a company has lots of downs and occasional ups. There's the thrill of the concept, then the hard work fleshing it out, and then there are the thousand rejections. Just doing fundraising can be death by a million cuts. You'll hear, repeatedly, the same song by investors. You are:
  • Too early.
  • Too late.
  • Lousy market.
  • Inexperienced team.
  • Management hasn't had prior exit.
  • You're asking for too much money.
  • You're not asking for enough money.
  • Not enough return.
  • Too risky.
  • Not visionary. 
  • And the list goes on. And on...... 
So even for a neurotypical non-neurotic, there is an awful lot of downer for the occasional moment of victory. And in start-ups, the initial victories may not seem like much to anyone else. 

What I'm trying to get at here is that most people who do start something new are doing so because they think that they have not been rewarded for being themself in the normal job culture. "I can do better than this." 

You can. And if you have struggled with some kind of mood or neurological challenges already in life, I think you are better prepared for the manic-depression induction effects of creating something new and convincing enough people to believe in your dream. 

by Scott Hampton on June 7th, 2014

So a taxi hire APP is now worth 18 BILLION in its latest round.

A while back I wrote an unfortunately prescient post about how the YAPA investment craze was killing real venture investing. I wish I had been wrong - for all the fancy talk about how investing was back in 2013, almost all the money was in applicatations and social media and problems of young white affluent people living in big cities. 

In good news, we still get traction on our small-ish medical deals, but honestly - 18 Billion valuation for an alternative to classic taxi service? 

It's the new bubble. Fasten your seat belts, it's stupid now, that means it's going to get ugly soon.

by Scott Hampton on January 16th, 2014

Recently we were asked what the rules were for CHIROPRACTORS and prescription interventional devices that do things like heat or electricity or ultrasound or IR therapy. 

If you thought dentistry had some interesting quirks, the system for chiropractors is a real mess. 

So, the device itself must be FDA registered and approved as appropriate for its classification. 

But chiropractor's aren't permitted to write prescriptions. Mostly. Sorta. It's not just an apples and oranges things, there's all kinds of random fruit-y-ness mixed in. This situation, it turns out, is state by state by state by state..... 50 some phone calls and website deep-dives later, we have the detailed info on this. 

Here's the takeaway, and feel free to get in touch if you want more info. The different rule styles include, but are not limited to:
  • In one state, chiropractors aren't permitted to use prescription devices like this.
  • In 17 states, chiropractors are explicitely permitted to use approved devices like this as long as their is no skin break/intrusion and no analgesic/anaesthesia. 
  • Three (3) states require special training and/or certification.
  • A couple of states specifically exclude specific types but not others.
  • A couple of states delegate this to chiropractic boards.
  • And a lot of states neither approve nor exclude/prohibit.
This reminds me of the situations in physical therapy and some areas of cosmetic dermatology. So, essentially, this is another one of those segments where you have to drill down to the state level in the USA. 

I blame the Founding Fathers! But all humor aside, this is a great example of the type of regulatory situation where you have to drill down at the state level. Similar situations are a lot more common in the EU, but now you know.


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