Thinking of Starting a Company?

KUIC Can Help

You’ve made a discovery that could positively impact the world and would like to see it take wings. You might be thinking, though, “But I’m faculty – not an entrepreneur.”  KUIC can help.

What to Expect

You’re interested in commercializing your discovery, but aren’t sure what to expect or where to start. KUIC is available to talk you through the steps. In the meantime, here’s a general overview to get you going with the planning process:

Step 1: Form the company

Once you’ve decided to go for it, generally the first step is to legally form a company. There are several different business structures, each with its pros and cons.

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • Limited liability partnership (LLP)
  • Non-profit 501(c)
  • C-corporation
  • S-corporation
  • L3C Corporation

For descriptions of each, visit www.SBA.gov.

Step 2: Add people

A great idea needs people to make it successful. You don’t have to hire full time staff, which most startups can’t afford, but you will need help. Identify key team members – ideally whose skills and experience complement yours – and the roles they will play in moving your discovery along. These people can be any of the following:

  • Employees
  • Directors
  • Scientific advisors
  • Research collaborators
  • Consultants
  • Business partners

Faculty considering commercialization often ask, “Would I have to leave my job at KU?” The answer is no.  Although both KU and another company can’t simultaneously employ you, you can have a non-employee role at the company as a collaborative researcher, board director, shareholder, and/or consultant. Some faculty even take a sabbatical to dedicate themselves to the start-up for a few months while it gets off the ground.

Step 3: Throw in Ideas

You have a company and people, now you need something to sell – likely one of your discoveries made in your role at KU. So the next step will be to get a license from KU that gives your company the rights to commercialize the intellectual property (IP) around that discovery.

To avoid a conflict of interest, you will need to identify someone at the company who is not a KU employee to take responsibility for negotiating with KUIC.

Step 4: Write a Business Plan

What is the company’s ultimate destination and how will it get there? These are the questions you will answer in a business plan. The value of a business plan isn’t so much in its mere existence as it is in the process of writing it.  Expect a well-written business plan to take weeks or months to complete.

The process will involve researching the market, articulating the value proposition of the product, interviewing prospective customers and partners, talking to thought leaders in the field, putting together budgets and timelines, and identifying the main risks along with strategies for mitigating those risks.

You can find free business plan templates at SBA.gov and SCORE.org.

Step 5: Move it Along

You have a vehicle (the company), traveling companions (the people), a purpose (the ideas), and a roadmap (the business plan) – you’re ready for your road trip!

Oh wait, now you need to put some gas in the tank. As they say, money makes the world go around and start-ups are no exception.  Click here to go to see our thoughts on financing your start-up.

Step 6: Lastly

You’ll know you’re well on your way to your destination when your company is landing customers, getting regulatory approvals, obtaining partnerships with major industry players, and/or focusing less on research & development and more on sales & marketing.

Although KUIC can’t guarantee your success, we can give you the best possible shot at it.

The answer to many specific questions can be found in our FAQ and KU Policies sections.