Each startup is different and each business needs a specific type of support in the subsequent stages of its development. As Miron Tokarski, the founder of the Genomtec startup, points out, it is important to realise one basic thing – what we need in order to succeed. The startup is one of the 5 winners of the 4th edition of the MIT Enterprise Forum Poland program, who will go on a bootcamp to Boston, and the winner of the PLN 100,000 prize in the CVC Young Innovator Awards competition. Find out what young entrepreneurs think is the recipe for success in business.
Where did you get the idea to start your own business and develop such a solution?
Miron Tokarski: The idea of a portable laboratory for rapid infection diagnosis came up when I was working at the University Clinical Hospital in Wrocław. Very often we needed immediate results, for example in the case of children who had undergone a transplant. In these circumstances, targeted treatment of the infection must be implemented as soon as possible. Unfortunately, currently available genetic diagnostics technologies require the use of a number of specialized equipment and appropriately trained personnel, which significantly increases the time of waiting for the result. Our technology allows us to drastically reduce the waiting time and enables the test to be performed by a person without laboratory experience.
It sounds very innovative. What is unique in your technology and why is it so important for diagnosis?
MT: The SNAAT technology, which was developed by the Genomtec team, significantly simplifies the analysis process by enabling the test to be performed outside the laboratory, e.g. in a doctor’s office. All you need to do is take a few drops of biological material, e.g. urine, blood from a finger puncture or an oral swab, apply the material to a disposable reaction card and place it in a device the size of a smartphone. The entire analysis process takes place automatically and a highly reliable result is available in less than 20 minutes.
What were your beginnings in business like? What difficulties have you encountered on your way?
MT: The beginnings are sometimes difficult, especially in the case of startups from the biotechnology industry. We were lucky to find investors with experience in developing technology companies in the field of medicine. Thanks to that they understood that in the case of this type of solutions, building a technology development strategy from the very beginning must be thought through and systematized. Ultimately, Genomtec ID will be used to make decisions about your health and, in some cases, your life. There must be no room for confusion here.
Where did you get the idea to participate in MIT Enterprise Forum Poland?
MT: The MIT Enterprise Forum Accelerator is a world-renowned startup program and one of those most appreciated for the quality and content level of workshops and mentoring sessions. Our goal within the framework of cooperation at MIT Enterprise Forum Poland was, and still is, to learn. It sounds banal, but in the accelerator we gained a lot of practical knowledge about verifying business models, defining bridgehead markets and ways of conducting talks with potential investors and partners from the USA. Despite the end of the program, we continue to maintain active contact with mentors. The development of technology and the company on the American market is particularly important for us, as it is a priority direction for Genomtec in the coming years. This was a milestone for us on our way to conquering the marketplace overseas.
You managed to get to the group of the lucky ones who will go to Boston. Genomtec also won an award in the CVC Young Innovator Awards competition – a cheque for PLN 100,000. In your opinion, what is the recipe for success?
MT: The recipe for success consists of several components. The main ones are: adapting the product or service to the needs of the market and customers, intensive work, as well as total involvement in the project. But be careful. Founders often have too much insight into their ideas to see that this is not what the market or the customer expects. Therefore, before the product development process begins, it is necessary to conduct a thorough market analysis through customer interviews, surveys or participation in an acceleration program. It will allow you to verify your idea with experts using the tools that we learn during the workshops.
What should young entrepreneurs who are just starting out in business remember first of all?
MT: Each startup is different and each business needs a specific type of support in the subsequent stages of its development. In preparing for an acceleration programme, it is important to be aware of one fundamental thing – what we really need in order to succeed. It can be a list of priority items that will allow to optimally use the range of possibilities provided by acceleration programs or supporting business development in the form of e.g. access to knowledge and experience of Polish and international experts. You must consciously pursue your goal. No less important is the aspect of the nature of the project. It is important that startups properly consult their solutions with users and experts in a given field, thus ensuring that they solve a real problem that has a wide impact on society. In this way, their chances of success can be significantly increased.
What are your plans for the future? In which directions do you want to develop your company?
MT: Currently, we are planning to attract an investor in Poland or Europe, whose funds will be used as a contribution to grants. We also look forward to help in expanding the Genomtec ID device to TRL 7-8 (TRL: Technology Readiness Levels). Next year we intend to develop the company and technology on the American market in parallel with acquiring a new business partner.