How Evidence Based Research Can Help Get Your Start-Up Funded
By: Jonathan Guillemot
Imagine sitting in the chair of a venture capitalist: you have two candidates, one with an average idea with strong evidence that there is a need for the product and another with a very innovative project but who did not give too much thought into the evidence. It is likely that the candidate with strong evidence will get the funding. What could the innovative project candidate have done to more effectively make their case?
Use evidence based research. Evidence based research is a methodology you can use to convince potential funders that your aging innovation provides the claimed benefits. It was first developed for use in medical fields, and is now moving into other businesses. Evidence-based decision-making is progressively becoming the gold standard.
Innovation in the aging space is a challenge – very few innovators are actually older people! People who develop cars are often drivers, but people developing products for those aging are often young. And, too often, older adults are excluded from the innovation process. The result is that innovators can artificially be creating a need that in reality is not there.
Here are six ways to ensure that your start-up findings are evidence-based:
- Clearly define the problem/issue you are trying to solve
- Investigate the literature, ask experts. It is unlikely that you are the first person ever to ask these questions. Academic journals, among other sources, may help you elucidate aspects of your issue and refine the precise questions for which the answer remains unknown. Contacting experts can be a very uselful approach as they will provide you with numerous leads to gather existing evidence.
- Make sure older adults who fulfil your target population are tested. Clarify that your subgroups have the right defining characteristics – these can be anything from dependency, cognitive function, social interaction, physical activity or many other characteristics.
- Ask the right questions. Is the questionnaire (or any other data collection tool) designed in a way that will be adequate for reliable statistical analysis (or any other analytical approach)? These questions may seem at first quite tedious and far from your ultimate objectives but strong evidence makes the difference. It will shape your projects and demonstrate the real value of your innovation. Having experience in the field will save you time!
- Assess and synthesize evidence. Make sure you leave enough time in the project to carefully review the evidence to ensure that you are making the right conclusions. Looking at the evidence with a neutral and objective eye will provide great strength to your report
It may be worthwhile to allocate a budget for an external evidence assessment. There are consultants for whom evidence generation is their job. Not only their expertise will likely provide faster and better results but it will ensure less bias in the way your innovation is looked at.
Evidence generation is crucial to build a business case, but as innovators, we are often more easily convinced by the value of our idea than funders and clients. They will ask for solid, unbiased and reproducible data. Your capacity to provide such evidence will help you prove that not only your idea is great, but it is also applicable and responds to a real need.