PatentSafe Starter Pack

We’re announcing a new offering – the PatentSafe Starter Pack. This is specifically aimed at smaller, startup companies who are in a particularly difficult position:

  • Money is tight
  • Productivity is all-important
  • The need for an ELN is perhaps greater than in a more established company
  • Their IT infrastructure is often a bit ad-hoc, but their use of computers in research (e.g. on the scientist’s desktops) is often very advanced (making a Bound Notebook particularly inappropriate)

Boosting researcher productivity very early in the life of startup delivers significantly greater benefit than doing it in the later stages of a company’s life:

  • The first few employees are often the “Key” people in any organization. Their time is disproportionately valuable.
  • If the existing employees can get more done, it means bringing on extra people can be delayed. Which means you reduce cash drain, reduce risk, and can afford to be more selective about who you bring on.
  • When you do bring on people, the existing body of work (both the results themselves, but also the procedures used) is tremendously valuable for training.

Startups are often based in multiple places, and there seems to be a growing trend for the company not to have a central office at all – we’ve got a number of customers who have employees at different research institutes. Having a single, Internet-accessible (but secure!) is crucial not only for collaboration but also getting properly witnessed records for patent purposes.

And of course, getting decent notebooks in from the start makes investors much more comfortable – progress is easier to see, and they know that IP is being generated and can be defended. When the major asset from any of these endeavors is the IP, it really helps investors to know that it is all written up safely!

So we’ve come up with the PatentSafe Starter Pack which is a subscription offering (which makes it easier on cash flow) delivered in a box (well, sometimes two boxes) which are just plugged in and you can start working. Alternatively, it is available as a hosted offering if you’ve got multiple sites.

The starter pack will produce both paper or electronic records (keeping the lawyers happy) but the scientists can of course work electronically regardless (keeping the scientists happy) and everything is available in single, searchable database.

It has taken us a while to get here, and coming up with a way to deliver PatentSafe at an affordable price and packaged in a way that can be quickly deployed has been quite a challenge – perhaps more of a challenge than our larger deployments (and we do have some very large multi-national deployments). Fortunately we’ve got some experience from our low-cost pilot program this is to some extent an offshoot of that.

Speaking of pilots, the economics of this program are such that we’re not going to offer a pilot; we’re going to offer a money-back guarantee instead. Our pilots tend to go straight to purchase anyway, so it seems a little silly to offer one in this case, especially as the cost of the pilot would be more than the first year’s subscription.

The Starter Pack is a different product from our normal PatentSafe offering, in that it is restricted to a small number of users, available in certain geographies, and we provide the server etc. This keeps our costs low which is why we can offer it at such a low price. Larger and more established companies will find the restrictions we’ve had to put in place to get the costs down will mean the Starter Pack doesn’t meet their needs – which is fine, that’s why we have the normal PatentSafe offering.

Because this is a very keenly-priced package and there’s been a lot of discussion about why we should do this (particularly from our Sales force!). Fortunately we’re privately held so it ultimately comes down to “Because we think it is a good idea”, but for the curious, this is some of the rationale:

  • Just because you’re small doesn’t mean you haven’t got an ELN problem, so there’s a definite need to be met. Because of our product architecture, cost structure etc. we’re one of the few vendors who can sensibly serve smaller companies.
  • Working with smaller companies is to some extent an investment – some of them will grow or be bought, and if we serve them well they will buy more from us.
  • Smaller companies are an awful lot of fun to work with, there’s lots of energy and enthusiasm. Watching them grow is a real pleasure – we’ve known some of our customers when they were all in one room, and now they’ve got whole buildings full of people.
  • People move around an awful in the Biotech workforce, that we’re getting an awful lot of customers from word-of-mouth recommendations. We literally are finding people who call us as they are going through the process of setting up a company, or call us when they realize their new job doesn’t come with an ELN.

So it should be an awful lot of fun… and I am sure we’ll meet a lot of interesting people along the way!

PS: If you are interested in the starter pack, you need to make contact with one of our sales people (fill out this form) and if you meet the criteria they can make an application on your behalf – if that’s approved we’ll put one in the post!

PPS: Yes, this program is inspired by Sun’s Startup Essentials program.

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