There’s a Huge Opportunity for Entrepreneurs in Biotech

November 2, 2015

9:00 pm

In the increasingly competitive tech field, one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is simply figuring out the best place to break in. Thanks to an overcrowded consumer market and a professional one that’s still largely dominated by old incumbents, it can be daunting for a startup to find footing.

Venturing into the world of biotech presents a world of opportunity for tech entrepreneurs both new and old.

Why Biotech May Be Your Best Option

Unless you’re a scientist in the field, chances are biotech isn’t your first thought when searching for your next business opportunity. But its academic sheen belies the many business possibilities of an industry that recorded a record $2.3 million in venture capital investments in the second quarter of 2015.

Here are three reasons why a move into the biotech field can be prosperous:

  1. There are still plenty of untapped markets. Two-thirds of ocean life still remains undiscovered by scientists. Think of biotech as this ocean for entrepreneurs. From industrial biotech to healthy aging to the aforementioned ocean itself, there are plenty of areas where biotech’s potential is nowhere close to being fulfilled.
  2. You don’t have to be a science major.While it may seem like you need an advanced science degree to even consider biotech as a viable option, the truth is that it needs innovators and business experts as much as it needs scientists. These are the people who can take scientific discoveries and find new ways to utilize them in the market.
  3. There’s money in the pipeline.To break into biotech, you may not even need to switch industries. There are plenty of opportunities in logistics, sales, and product development. The periphery of biotech is the perfect place to apply your existing expertise in a brand-new area.

What You Need to Succeed

While biotech is an excellent sector to go into, you still can’t jump into it blind. Here are a few things you need to do to help your budding biotech career truly flourish:

  • Network. The career options in biotech may be new, but that doesn’t mean the way of doing business has changed. Like any industry, it’s often not what you know but who you know. Chances are if you have connections in the tech business, you’re not too far removed from knowing someone in biotech. Use those connections.
  • Find the right location. Unless you’re looking to be a research scientist or a professor, most of the job opportunities in biotech are found in a small number of places. Luckily, these are usually the places where the tech market is booming, too, like San Francisco and Southern California.
  • Don’t be too narrow. Biotechnology may be a specialized field, but you don’t need to be a specialist to be successful in it. In fact, the more well-rounded your skill set, the more valuable you can be. Something as simple as people skills, for example, can be an indispensable asset to a team.
  • Be willing to learn. Regardless of what your background is, jumping into an area that’s still relatively in its infancy means that what you know as fact will most likely evolve. If you’re not willing to reevaluate what you know and reeducate yourself on a fairly regular basis, biotech may not be the field for you.

Biotechnology may not be as immediately sexy as creating the next great app, and the formula for success may not be as clear. But these attributes are features, not bugs. Biotech has the potential to be your next venture on the entrepreneurial frontier. All you have to do is take the first step.

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Kevin Xu is the CEO of MEBO International, a California- and Beijing-based intellectual property management company specializing in applied health systems. He also leads Skingenix, which specializes in skin organ regeneration and the research and development of botanical drug products. Skingenix is listed in the 2014 Empact100 Showcase.

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