Editor’s note: Trevor P. Schmidt is an attorney with Hutchison PLLC.
RALEIGH – There is an old saying for writers struggling to find their voice, “write what you know.” The same can be said for entrepreneurs. To found a successful company, it is not enough to be passionate about business, you have to have insight into the specific needs of your industry. My most recent guest on the Founder Shares podcast, Daniel White, shared with me that knowing the market need in your space, and being able to uniquely address that need is key to a successful company.
“When I went outside of ophthalmology, I didn’t do very well,” Daniel said. “But, when I stayed within ophthalmology, particularly retina, I tend to do very well.”
And doing very well is putting it mildly. Daniel has founded five successful companies—two of which, Clearside Biomedical and Alimera Sciences, both focusing on retinal ophthalmology, have gone public. Over the course of his entrepreneurial career to-date, his companies have raised over $475 million.
As one of the first two people to graduate from Auburn University with a degree in molecular biology, Daniel’s focus on the science has been at the center of his career. He leveraged this knowledge into successful roles with larger corporate biotech companies for nearly 25 years, but he knew that he wanted something more. It was time to go out on his own.
“My grandfather was an entrepreneur,” Daniel said, “and he had done this, so I kind of had it in my blood. I really wanted to give it a try.”
But knowledge of your industry and a desire to be an entrepreneur are only the table stakes. As Daniel tells it, you really have to find this grit to get back up and to believe in yourself and your company.
“All these people, and complications, and things are pushing you down,” Daniel said, “and you just get back up again, and you keep on going, and you keep on going with your innovation. And that’s the willpower that I believe many, many people have, but they talk themselves out of it for their own insecurities.”
Daniel told me that, at his core, he has always been fearless and curious—especially about molecular biology—and that is a big part of his success.
“Maybe I’ve been really naive,” Daniel said, “and I haven’t talked myself out of some of the things most people would’ve talked themselves out of, but I think it’s important that a person have some of those characteristics. I’m very surprised how many people don’t believe enough in their own intuitions and their own capabilities and giving entrepreneurs a miss shot.”
Daniel’s story is a great reminder, that no matter where you are in your career, if you know your industry, if you stay intellectually curious and believe in yourself enough to take a shot, and you know your “why”—the reason you are pushing this business forward, then success cannot be far behind.
To hear more of Daniel’s story, check out our latest episode. It may just be the story that convinces you, it’s time to take your shot.
The blog content should not be construed as legal advice.
(C) Hutchison PLLC