Notes from an Entrepreneur Part 3

By Lee Travers

In my first post of this series, I spoke about ideas and how one doesn’t necessarily need to have the most ingenious creation to succeed as an entrepreneur. Every sector has potential for disruption and innovation; if you transform how business is done, you’re in a good position.

If you’re one of these people, then you fall into the category of an ‘opportunity entrepreneur’. According to a study by Standard Chartered entitled How to Spot an Opportunity Entrepreneur, these are likely to expand their business faster, create more jobs and innovate to fill important gaps in the market; while at the same time, increasing productivity in the global economy.

Thankfully, there are an increasing number of opportunities out there for entrepreneurs. Technology is not the only area up for disruption. The Standard Chartered survey shows that entrepreneurship is growing in a wide range of sectors. The most popular sectors are manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, construction and real estate.

Innovation is key

However, ideas are key. In my view, there are three important areas where innovation is currently required. Whoever can solve the following problems, is potentially in for big success.

US Pharmaceuticals - Transforming the decision process for pharmaceutical patenting

All pharmaceutical patents have a shelf life and once that shelf life expires, anyone can use that formula. Manufacturers can re-apply for a patent when it expires but, in most countries, this will be denied. This is why you can now get drugs such as Paracetamol for as little as 14p from any supermarket.

However, in the United States of America, this is different. The US is the only country in the world that regularly accepts the renewal of patents. Without price competitiveness, US drugs are often extremely expensive.

A key example of this is Harvoni, the drug that cures Hepatitis C. Gilead Science brought the drug to market in 2014 and research shows that more than 90% of patients taking it saw the Hepatitis C virus wiped out in three months, and without the side effects that made previous treatments so intolerable.

But, Gilead wants $84,000 for a 12-week treatment plan. This means that only 3% of the seven million Hepatitis C sufferers in the US have access to this treatment. The tragic reality is that if the remaining 97% lived anywhere else in the world, they could get the drug for less than $100.

As a result, many people are dying because they cannot afford treatment. If anyone was to find a way to bring cheaper, more affordable, alternatives to market, they’d be doing a great service to the world.

Bringing the legal model into the 21st Century

The need for a lawyer is reducing, thanks to the introduction of artificial-intelligence (AI Bot) lawyers. DoNotPay, the world’s first robot lawyer - designed by 19-year-old, second-year Stanford University student Joshua Browder - made headlines early in 2018 for helping more than 160,000 users successfully contest their parking fines, using a simple chat-like interface.

That service is free - but others have since come to market which, unlike a traditional lawyer who bills clients per hour, offer a subscription model. But, can a computer interpret information better than a human?

The challenge now for any budding entrepreneur, is how can you update the existing legal model and create a solution that utilises technology to bring down cost, but make it more personable by incorporating elements of face-to-face interaction. Something that can compete with the likes of DoNotPay.

Accurate behavioural analytics

If you look at data science and understanding human behaviour through polling, you’ll see it’s outdated, as seen in the unpredicted poll results for the US presidential election and Brexit. If the US polls were accurate, Hillary Clinton would now be president. Instead, the information was misleading and Donald Trump won the election.

This is due to simple human behaviour traits. Humans are known to change their minds at the last minute and not everyone participates in voting as expected.

What is needed is a way of providing more accurate data and therefore forecast polls based on human behaviour and patterns.

A helping hand

These are just a few ideas on sectors and industries ready for disruption and innovation. Nevertheless, not all entrepreneurs make it big on their own. Everyone needs certain ingredients to be successful; some of which are out of their control. According to Standard Chartered, the three most important ingredients for success are:

  1. Business-friendly government regulations and policies

  2. Ample finance options and access to a skilled workforce

  3. Strong demand and a stable political system.

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