Nine Guiding Principles for Starting a Technology Business

In June of this year I gave a talk at the TAPPI conference in Washington, D.C. on the guiding principles for building a nanotechnology company. In my mind I was clear about what I wanted to accomplish with my talk. Enough has been written/discussed about the mechanics of starting a business (type of corporate form, how to allocate an option pool, etc.), and I didn’t want to rehash information that was already widely available. But what’s not talked about enough is how do you build a business? What happens after you incorporate and the legal/admin/financing is out of the way? How do you make it happen?

To keep the message digestible and brief, I came up with the Nine Guiding Principles for Building a Nanotechnology Company. In my talk I was able to amplify each one, and I will do so here in future posts.  For now, here’s the list:

  1. It’s all about the markets
  2. Get the manufacturing right
  3. Leverage private money with government and corporate development grants/contracts
  4. No matter how great you think your technology is, you’re much farther away from success then you think.
  5. A few vocal reference customers is much better than a bunch of “beta testers”
  6. Make sure you understand what your customers will do with your “products”
  7. Find board members who know your industry and understand your company
  8. To survive you’ll need to transition from a “founder-led” startup into a dependable supplier of products to a defined set of customers.
  9. Sooner or later, the business people need to take over. Understand that from the beginning.


Neil Kane information


  1. […] This is the first of my Nine Guiding Principles. […]

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