There has been much debate in the nanotechnology community about how to commercialize new materials, with graphene taking the center of this discussion over the last decade. Particularly in a post-pandemic world, we are all seeking ways to utilize our skills and knowledge to create new solutions to existing problems. Cardea has done this and is looking at a bright future that not only brings a new solution to the COVID-19 problem, but many other problems as well. How we have done this is no secret; it is simply the method that all businesses use to be successful.
1) Start with “Why”. Graphene or any new material is a “What”; it adds features, but by itself has no intrinsic value. Commercialization is about solving people’s problems with the features you can provide; “Why” they buy it. With that “Why” providing context, the value gets applied.
2) Too often companies are started by people who are scientists and enthusiasts who value the scientific method, and yet fail to understand that business and commercialization is just another form of the scientific process. You start with a hypothesis such as “there is a problem in the market that my material can solve.” You then test it in the market and collect feedback. You then evaluate your hypothesis and adjust it until it works. Too often companies are formed by people who fail to follow the scientific process to build their business.
3) Do not assume your technical improvements will directly translate to commercial success. “Better” is not better. If a solution already exists that solves the market’s problem well enough for most people, then a technically better version will not be successful. This is called the Better Mousetrap Fallacy. The mousetrap has in fact had nearly 4,400 new inventions over the past 120 years, yet the most successful version on the market today is the one invented in 1899.
4) Understand that bringing a new solution to the market is a heavy responsibility, and it is yours to carry. There is a vast gulf between your understanding of your technology and a prospective partner or customer’s understanding on how to translate your “what my technology does” to “why does it solve my problem”. It is irresponsible to assume that the market will bridge that gap for you; you must do it.
At Cardea, we embrace the responsibility of our vision. We only make claims about what we have built or what we have planned and know is possible.
We stay true to the “Why” but continuously check it internally and externally to make sure our direction will add value to society.
We are fortunate to have many partners, both real and prospective, but those partners work with us because we carry the burden of bringing a product to reality. It is in that responsibility that new technology of any sort can realize the value it brings to the world.