If all goes according to plan, in five years time Biomatters Ltd. should be clearly in the purchasing sights of larger companies in the life sciences or gene sequencing industries.
The Auckland-based company which makes Geneious proprietary software that places a robust, easy to use and graphical interface over the vast quantities of genetic data used by biologists, should be a good target for such companies says chief executive Candace Toner.
A joint venture with a larger company or an initial public offering is also a possibility she says.
By then Biomatters will have sales teams in North America, Europe and Asia selling and servicing universities, research institutions and large enterprises such pharmaceutical companies.
As part of the University of Auckland Business School’s Entrepreneurs’ Challenge 2010, Biomatters is hoping that the funding prize helps boost its market presence and “allow us to make more money, faster,” Toner says.
“The original investors want their money out,” she says, “and I have a personal plan to do it all over again with something else. I have no problems about being a serial entrepreneur.”
Toner says that running and growing Biomatters since it formally started selling its Geneious software in early 2007 has been a definite learning experience, “and it would be a shame to hang up our hats then.”
“We’ll look for opportunities,” she says. “New Zealand’s a fertile ground for ideas, and hopefully we’ll do it again.”
In the meantime the company is mostly protecting its intellectual property by being a good company for its customers to deal with. Trying to patent or otherwise protect the software-based IP is an “exercise in futility,” she says.
“The real test as a company is how well you’re looking after your customers. What’s the service and support IP that you’ve got in that space? We’re about providing a quality product at a fair price.”
The best advice Toner can give a start-up company is to keep the end game and market as a goal, and hire the right people at the right time. Too often Toner has observed start-up founders trying to do everything.
From that point of view, Biomatters always targeted the U.S.A. first as its “low hanging fruit.” For that reason too it has always priced its software, downloadable directly from the website, in $US.
“New Zealanders can cope with American dollars, but Americans don’t get our dollar,” she says.