There is a theory of addressing the root cause of a problem by asking “why” multiple times. The idea is to drill down from the broad “something went wrong” to what really caused it and what is the appropriately-scaled fix.
As I approach the end of 2017, it’s not a failure or problem I want to analyze. I’ve started a new venture. In July of this year, I launched Ingensity IP. Now, six months in, I use this “why” path to explain in the words of the Talking Heads song “How did I get here?” and more importantly for me, “why?”
I am doing this writing for 2 purposes – yes, it’s a bit of self-introspection, but mostly, I am seeking feedback. I welcome those working in my areas of focus (biotech, pharma, Ag tech, Med tech, diagnostics and digital health) as well as others in tech-related fields to tell me their reactions to the Ingensity IP business model. Does the approach resonate? Can legal advice transition from a traditional billable-hour/outside counsel model to one more project-integrated and value-based? Can the line blur between “in-house” and “outside” counsel, so that the external counsel, like an in-house team member, is always there for a quick question, as well as an in-depth one without running up a bill? So, with this in mind, here goes the 5 whys of how did I get here:
Why did I go out on my own?
I wanted to set my own focus where I could concentrate on working with companies in the areas of pharma, biotech, medical devices, digital health and diagnostics. I also wanted to work with start-ups and with investors in newly emerging technology areas.
Why focus on the life sciences and start-ups?
Biotech and healthcare are a real passion for me. It brings me back to my days in biotech research. By focusing on start-ups and new developing technologies, I can contribute to this exciting sector and I get to use my science background and legal training to help other entrepreneurs.
Why do this as a solo venture?
Being on my own allows me to develop a project-based/value-based business model for IP strategy that can be tailored to smaller companies, as well as working within units of larger companies and with investors. Large law firms can be too costly or too conflict-laden to be a viable resource for start-ups and developing technology areas.
Why does the model differ from a traditional law firm?
The mode of working not only departs from the dreaded billable hour, but also places IP strategy as an integrated piece of the puzzle in the totality of the company’s business strategy. In my model, IP strategy is part of the internal project team with the other puzzle pieces – R&D, operations, marketing, sales, regulatory, partnering, finance – working together to steer a course. It allows me to work with the company without being an internal/ full-time employee, yet fully integrated into the company’s goals and success strategy on an on-going basis. The model allows for cost control and predictability because not everyone needs an internal IP attorney full-time. Yet, at the same time, there is often a need to have someone on-hand for the quick IP-related question, as well as continuity for larger or longer-term projects and issues.
Does this work? Time will tell. Like all new ventures, I am sure there will be some evolution of the model. But coming back to a “why” question.
Why am I here at this point as we enter 2018?
Because I wanted to do something different, not just different for me, but different from the mainstream of the legal industry. As a scientist at heart, I want to experiment and construct a working model shaped by the data gathered. The data will come from clients, prospective client pitches and hopefully from some of you reading this and willing to provide your reactions.
So, off I go on the adventure of 2018, joining other entrepreneurs on their journeys. Truly, if you have the time or the inclination, send me your thoughts on this business model. Best wishes for 2018!