Trilogy Tidings
August 2015
in this issue

     Looking before leaping is always good counsel; it tends to avoid catastrophe. I like to call that process landscaping. It's an important - often essential - business tool. Read on to understand what it is, what kinds of questions it answers, when it might be useful, and how to get it done.


     Plus, some other interesting stuff too, including a more detailed look at the mystery that is Theranos.



Business Landscaping           

Landscaping v: Gaining an awareness of a market segment, a market, an industry sector, an industry, or a range of products and technologies that address these domains.


     Most see business landscaping as a high-level activity. They're not trying to examine every product in detail, every nuance of demand, every technological twist. They're just trying to understand ... well, the landscape.


     Have a look at my brief overview of landscaping issues and applications.


What Entrepreneurs Get Wrong            

     That's a long list, of course. And the longest lists are created by inexperienced founders. But there is wisdom in learning from the failures of others - another example of looking before you leap.



     There's a great Harvard Business Review article from 2013 that continues to instruct today. We see time and again how its lessons coincide with the failings we encounter in advising our own early-stage clients. The authors spoke with 120 founders, more than half of whom had previous start-up experience. In the HBR article, they examine the mistakes they cited most frequently, explore the objections they faced when they began making sales calls, and present an alternative sales model uniquely suited to a start-up's circumstances.


     My favorite lesson, which we routinely emphasize in our own practice, is this:

" Research has shown that it's easier to get people to commit to an idea if they are involved in its creation. By engaging with prospects early, founders can not only gather feedback to improve product design but also increase prospects' involvement in the process, thus raising the odds that they'll purchase the offering."

Let's Blow Up Laboratory Diagnostics Medicine!     

     Theranos redux. I first wrote about the mystery that is Theranos in October 2013. It's a mystery no more.


     Theranos has developed a process for IVD assays that require very small volumes of blood yet demonstrate performance comparable to existing lab-based assays. Now we learn that their actual business model is to manage independent, new neighborhood labs that run these tests quickly and cheaply, presumably cheaply enough that consumers will be willing to pay for them out of pocket.


     Now I'm compelled to respond to a recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal authored by Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and CEO of Theranos, and entitled: "How to Usher In a New Era of Preventive Health Care". (I cannot provide a link to the article but, if you have a WSJ online subscription, you will find it in the Opinion section of July 29. Otherwise, let me know and I'll send a copy.)


     In her rather bizarre piece, Ms. Holmes argues for the following self-serving changes in lab medicine:

  • All lab tests should undergo review by the FDA.
  • Innovation needs to be unleashed by allowing individuals to order (and interpret) their own lab tests. Prices will thereby become transparent and apparently lower.
  • Diagnostic information needs to be more accessible by accelerating the process through patient-directed ordering, localized testing, and rapid reporting.
  • Preventive care will be enhanced because asymptomatic individuals can cause tests to be run without provider intervention.

     Where to begin? Here's a start:

  1. Individuals are generally incapable of interpreting the results of lab tests. For example, how will false positives and false negatives be handled? How can test results be understood in their proper clinical contexts?
  2. Evidence of the clinical value of asymptomatic testing is rare; the primary exception is genetic testing, which may not fit the Theranos model.
  3. How does the Theranos business model actually enhance preventive medicine?
  4. How does a massive new FDA role stimulate innovation? Lab-based diagnostics, an incredibly effective and cost-efficient modality, is nicely regulated by CLIA and CAP today.
  5. How can insurers deal with such a different model if at all. If they are not involved as payers, will individuals really jump on this bandwagon?

     In summary, I think we are seeing the beginning of the end of the Theranos idea. But I've been wrong before. Share your thoughts.


Should you care about your sales prospects' personal finances?    

     It's not always essential or even relevant. However, in the case of physician prospects, it can surely by helpful. For example, it can support your understanding of their perceptions of value.


     So you may be interested in Medscape's 2015 published findings of its survey on physician compensation. Some interesting data can be found in its report.


Have you ever regretted sending an email message?            

     Of course you have. Everyone commits errors in converting thoughts and emotions to written words. That process, which can have embarrassing or even catastrophic results, can be greatly improved by just spending time re-reading and reconsidering your word choices before you hit send.

Send Email

     If you lack the discipline to take that extra time on every occasion, you can exploit some help from the email apps that you use. Here is one approach that you can try.


What does Trilogy do? 
     Trilogy Associates facilitates business growth and renewal through commercialization of new products, providing the following services:
  • Opportunity assessment
  • Business planning and enterprise growth strategies
  • New-product conceptualization, commercialization and marketing
  • Market research and competitive assessment
  • Business development and partnering
  • Market and technological due diligence
  • Assessment of the therapeutic and diagnostic potential of novel technologies
  • Design of efficient and effective development strategies for early-stage biomedical products
  • Business and technical writing/publishing

     Inquiries to establish whether and how we might support your business initiatives are always welcome.  Contact us.

Resources from our Archives 
     Check out our Reading Room to view my published articles, presentations and white papers on a variety of topics.
     And, you can examine an archive of my prior newsletters (since February 2007).
Contact Information
Joseph J. Kalinowski, Principal