Dedication to Life-time Growth
"Who is the next investor to drink coffee with?" seems to be a question that all business starters have to consider every day. In San Francisco, known as the “dreamland of venture investment”, there are a couple of famous cafés where entrepreneurs and investors share and exchange. For example, the Starbucks near the Stanford University and beside Sand Hill Road is the default venue for an appointment between entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Similarly, 3W Café at Zhongguancun, Beijing is frequented by all types of entrepreneurs and investors. Despite my interest in "drinking" all types of coffees, I didn't have to worry about the coffee drinks with different investors on my "business venturing" path every day.
"I have changed my career"
I had been engaged in pharmaceutical R&D, a highly complicated systematic engineering with highly meticulous division of R&D work. Previously, I had focused on early discovery of medicines. Simply speaking, what I needed to do was to find the chemical molecules that basically satisfied the druggability requirements, and the subsequent manufacturing process, clinical researches and even commercialization work had nothing to do with me. But the first task for me after I joined Apeloa Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. of Hengdian Group in 2015 was the company's first internationalized pharmaceutical manufacturing project oriented to the overseas regulatory market.
The challenges I faced then include my virtually zero experience in pharmaceutical manufacturing, the need to reestablish an R&D team for this brand-new business and the lack of facilities. Luckily we had the headquarters' firm commitment to financing this project. Apparently, it was a business venturing for me, but the advantage was the availability of funds.
Luckily, after years of efforts, the first product was successfully approved by the regulatory authority and launched into the overseas market. It was the first business I had started at Hengdian. I was asked "what do you do at Hengdian" by a friend then, and I answered jokingly, "I have changed my caree".
Founding an Overseas Company
To satisfy the needs for the internationalized manufacturing project, the company decided to found a branch company in an overseas market in 2016. Although the business development for some of our products was highly booming in this market, we didn't have an overseas operation there. Considering the local regulations and other factors, the company management decided to dispatch me to found and operate this branch company.
As mentioned above, I had been involved in the R&D sector for long. Founding and operating a branch overseas is beyond the scope of my specialty. However, I accepted the challenge with joy to promote the project. Then I solicited the help of friends who recommended a lawyer team familiar with the local company registration process to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of different registration places. Finally, I set up an appropriate operating team according to our operating needs. After nearly three months of work, the company was finally incorporated and launched into operation smoothly. The overseas company laid the foundation for the smooth progress of the internationalized pharmaceutical manufacturing project and the subsequent commercialization of our products. How to set up and effectively maintain the operation of an overseas company is undoubtedly another experience of business venturing to me as a technological researcher.
Restructuring of the Research Institute
Since the second half of 2015, China's pharmaceutical industry has witnessed unprecedented changes. The industry has fully recognized the decisive role of R&D capability in the future development of a company. With the implementation of the company's integration plan and the gradual unveiling of our future development strategy in 2017, the company decided to restructure the Pharmaceutical Research Institute and establish the main part of the institute in a region with a high concentration of pharmaceutical R&D. As the person in charge of our R&D team, I was naturally appointed to undertake the task of restructuring the Research Institute.
Despite the previous "business venturing" experiences in which I broke my personal limits, restructuring the research institute was obviously a greater challenge to me on a higher level. The first two concerns were geographic location and structure of the institute.
In the Yangtze River Delta, the hottest regions of pharmaceutical R&D are Shanghai and Suzhou. After over two years of survey and evaluation of multiple regions and parks, we finally chose the Pharmaceutical Town in Xiasha of Hangzhou as the site for the institute considering the actual needs of the company. In order to determine the structure of the institute, we needed to fully consider the company's plan for pharmaceutical R&D on the one hand and the increase in R&D efficiency on the other hand when the organizational structure could satisfy the R&D features. For this purpose, we proposed an organizational structure in line with the company operating needs based on surveys of multiple famous pharmaceutical research facilities at home and abroad and with reference to company goals and had it approved by the senior management. What followed was the recruitment of main team members, design and decoration of the laboratory, procurement of instruments and equipment and formulation of various rules and regulations. With the full support of the Group and company headquarters, the institute was smoothly launched into operation as scheduled at the end of 2018.
When I talked with my friends later about how I had selected the site, set up the team, made the design drawings, established a laboratory, procured the equipment, started the project and promoted the management, they all agreed that it was a typical process of business venturing and the only difference was that I hadn't had to drink coffee with investors, nor to attend different meetings and organize any road show.
Dedication to Life-time Growth
As stated by Ben Horowitz, a famous entrepreneur and investor from the Silicon Valley, in his book The Hard thing about Hard Things, "in my 8-plus years of being a CEO, I had only 3 good days and the remaining 8 years were full of hard things".
Starting a business is hard and entrepreneurs are alone. To an entrepreneur, it is particularly important to adopt a reliable approach, an optimistic attitude and a thinking mode of "life-time growth".
In the future, we will continue to maintain the venturing spirits on the basis of the Group and the company and summon up our confidence to overcome all difficulties and challenges and achieve our goals. Through our diligence on the land of Hengdian, we are dedicated to creating a great enterprise with our excellent team members.