Glossary of Commercialization Terminology
That portion of an Available Market that a particular company, product or service can realistically expect to attract – i.e. customers within the market who are likely to have an interest in the product or service offering, the budget and authority to purchase it, and whom the seller can reach.
Refers to the uptake of an idea, product or service by Customers in a Market. For example, a product that has high user adoption is in high demand among its end-users. A product that has strong market adoption is in high demand among customers.
A line graph used to illustrate the adoption trends of a particular idea or product in a market. A typical adoption curve in technology markets is a bell curve: adoption begins with a few early adopters and, if successful, progresses through stages of mainstream adoption, market saturation, and market decline. Read the book, So what? who cares? why you?™ for details.
A private individual (or occasionally a network of private individual investors) who invest in businesses, technologies and ideas. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ helps people with ideas for technologies, advanced technology ventures, and tech products attract investment.
In the context of Intellectual Property (IP), assignment is the outright sale of IP by the owner to a third party. Assignment implies that that seller retains no obligation for ongoing support or management of the IP. This is in contrast to Licensing. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes information about licensing models for inventors, scientists and researchers.
That portion of a Market that has the budget to purchase a product or service.
A quantitative simulation of a technology/product/business idea and the opportunity as if it were taken to market. Business models are used as significant assessment tools by investors. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter devoted to developing a business model for technology ideas.
A known and recognized “type” of product or solution on the Market today. Categories are powerful marketing concepts because they help potential investors or customers understand a new or complex idea in terms that are already familiar to them. Failing to choose a Category is at the heart of many failed technology commercialization efforts. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter devoted to leveraging the concept of Category for the purposes of technology Commercialization.
A route taken by a product as it moves from manufacturer to end-user. A Channel may be a direct sale (from producer to customer), a product reseller, a licensee/receptor, or an Original Equipment Manufacturer. Defining the channel(s) of distribution is an important step in defining an idea’s Path to Market. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter devoted to investigating and defining the potential Channels for a technology idea.
another company or organization with which you form a partnership to deliver your product or technology to the market. A channel partner may be a product reseller, a systems integrator, etc. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter devoted to planning your path to market and understanding the Ecosystem of relationships you will need to leverage, including Channel Partners.
A customer that purchases a product on the market, at market prices. This is in contrast to a Lead Customer, which works in a kind of partnership with the producer to help define and develop a technology idea or product.
A customer that purchases a technology or product to use to improve its own profitability, to achieve organization efficiencies, or to reduce costs. Commercial Customers require complete, finished products – this is in contrast to a Lead Customer. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter and additional tools devoted to the identification and definition of various types of Customers.
The process of turning an idea into a viable financial success, either through the creation of a business, or through the licensing of the idea to a receptor. (Examples: bioscience commercialization, biotech commercialization, intellectual property commercialization, etc.) The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ is devoted to helping inventors and tech entrepreneurs learn how to commercialize innovation or gain research and development funding. The book provides useful technology business planning tools.
A brainstorming tool used to plot a particular idea, product or service’s competitive Position relative to that of other Competitors. The tool is a visual representation of how the intended Customer perceives the various competitive options available with respect to their ability to deliver the Key Benefit sought, combined with a desirable Key Differentiator. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a section that outlines how to use a Competitive Radar to facilitate the process of commercializing an invention or idea.
Any alternative idea, product, solution or company solves the same problem as another. Competition can be low-tech (for example, electronic organizer versus paper organizer), or high-tech (for example, cell phone versus smartphone). Mapping the competition is an important step in the process of commercializing an idea. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter devoted to identifying, defining and Positioning against Competitors.
From the perspective of an inventor or a business, a Customer is an individual or organization defined by three characteristics: 1. Has a problem to solve; 2. Has money to spend to solve the problem; and, 3. Is willing – and authorized – to spend that money on a solution. When in the process of commercializing an idea or technology, the identification of Customers is critical, but frequently misguided. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter devoted to the identification and definition of Customers.
Describes the act of Licensing an idea as a means of protecting the licensee from a competitive threat. A defensive licensee is not motivated by a desire to exploit or commercialize the idea or technology, but simply wants to eliminate it from the market.
The process of setting an idea, product, service or company apart from Competitors and other Categories as a means of defining how that idea is unique and desirable. Differentiation is a core aspect of competitive Positioning. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes tools and techniques for inventors and tech entrepreneurs to clearly differentiate their products and technologies.
Refers to a technology-based venture that is in “seed” or “pre-ignition” stage. During this time, the technology idea is being fleshed out, its market opportunity is being defined, investors, licensees and other business backers are being courted, and so on. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ helps early-stage technology companies to attract investors, customers and business backers by developing a solid Commercialization plan.
In ecology, an Ecosystem refers to a community of different species interacting with one another and their environment. In business, Ecosystem refers to a community of different organizations, buyers and sellers that interact with one another for the purposes of commerce. When developing a commercialization plan for a technology idea, it is important to map out the ecosystem of the market in order to identify the various suppliers, Channels and Competitors that exist and which could be important to your efforts. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter that addresses the market ecosystem.
A one-to-three sentence statement that answers the question, “What do you do?” in a clear and compelling manner. Of all elements in an Investor Package, the elevator pitch is the shortest, highest-stakes, and most difficult to craft. The book, So what? who cares? why you?Ô includes a chapter devoted to crafting an Investor’s Package, including a template for creating an effective Elevator Pitch.
An individual who uses a technology or product. End Users are often confused with Customers, but they are not necessarily the same thing. A company that purchases a tool that is used by individuals in the company is the Customer, while the individuals are the End Users.
An individual who starts a new business. For example, inventors who choose to commercialize an idea by starting a business are entrepreneurs. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ is written for inventors who want to commercialize their ideas.
A thought or a concept for something new or a new way of solving a known problem. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ is written for inventors who want to Commercialize their ideas.
A business entity (sometimes called a business innovation center) created to nurture business ideas or new technologies, with the goal of helping those ideas become attractive to venture capitalists. An incubator typically provides physical space and a variety of other services – such as administrative, legal, business, technical – that incubating companies can draw upon to develop their business ideas. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ helps incubators, innovation centers and incubating companies to articulate their ideas in a commercially compelling way.
A Competitor product, service or company that already exists in a Market and which has significant Market Share. New ideas must compete against, displace, or complement incumbents.
A group of businesses that share a common method of generating profits, serve a common type of Customer, and share a specific area of expertise. E.g. the healthcare industry.
Intellectual property (IP)
Creations and products of the imagination (such as technologies, patents, works of art, etc.) that are used in commerce. Also refers to the legal rights associated with these creations inventions, artistic expressions and other products of the imagination. IP can be protected by trademark, patent, and copyright law. Commonly, IP is at the core of a technology’s Differentiation.
a person who starts or manages a new business within an established organization. Many science and technology research-oriented organizations support intrapreneurship through programs such as innovation centers and Technology Transfer efforts. (Related terms include intrapreneurship and corporate entrepreneurship). The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ provides those organizations with a process and tools to evaluate and articulate the value of science and research in commercial terms.
An individual or entity that invests money (and/or other resources) into a venture with the expectation of significantly increasing that investment through high return. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ guides inventors and technology entrepreneurs in how to attract investors for their ideas.
A component of the Investor Package. It is typically two pages in length and presents the highlights of the opportunity and the investment requirement. The book, So what? who cares? why you?Ô guides inventors and technology entrepreneurs in the creation of an effective Investor Package.
A collection of informative materials designed specifically for an audience of investors and meant to help make the case for investment in a particular idea, product or business. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ guides inventors and technology entrepreneurs in the creation of an effective Investor Package, including outlines and templates for investor presentations.
The one primary benefit that a customer considers when evaluating all competitive offerings in a particular Category. It is an expectation that a Customer has. For example, a Customer using a search engine expects to obtain the key benefit of a rapid and accurate search result. A Key Benefit is a crucial aspect of successful competitive Positioning. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter devoted to defining and leveraging the Key Benefit that an idea offers.
From the Customer’s perspective, this is something distinct and desirable in a technology, product or service – something that sets the product apart from all other alternatives available. An idea must have a Key Differentiator – in the Customer’s mind – in order to be able to competitively Position in the market. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter devoted to defining and leveraging the Key Differentiator that an idea offers.
Also called “day-after recalls”, these are the few core details that a presenter or writer wants its audience to remember about the content they are presenting. Key Takeaway messages should be repeated throughout an investor presentation or investor document, because repetition breeds retention. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter devoted to helping inventors and tech entrepreneurs to prepare for investor presentations and to identify and communicate the key takeaways of their idea.
An early-stage Customer that is willing to work with a producer to help define and shape a technology or product into a commercially viable offering. Lead customers provide critical feedback in the commercialization process, but they will not necessarily scale into Commercial Customers.
Legal permission from a patent owner that allows a third party to use or practice an invention. Licensing technology is one way for inventors to commercialize their ideas. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ is written for inventors seeking to commercialize their ideas.
A description of how a technology or idea will be licensed. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter devoted to creating business and licensing models.
Letter of intent: a contract that indicates that one party intends to invest at least a certain amount of money, over a particular period of time, into the development of another party’s idea or product.
A broad landscape of buyers looking to solve different types of problems. For example, one could identify “the medical market.” The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter devoted to helping inventors and tech entrepreneurs find Markets for their ideas.
A trademark of wendykennedy.com inc. It is a tool used to brainstorm market Segments. See the book, So what? who cares? why you?™ for details.
encompasses your Market Space as well as broader forces – such as adjacent industries, political events, world issues, and the broader economic climate.
The total sales of an organization divided by the sales of the market they serve. This is one means of expressing the competitive Position of a particular business, product or technology. It is a quantitative value, in contrast to Mindshare, which is qualitative.
encompasses the various forces at work in your industry, including competitive dynamics, the actions of power players in the industry, the types of solutions being offered on that market, and the growth and driving forces shaping the space. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter on the topic of market space and market categories to help scientists, inventors and tech entrepreneurs to prepare their ideas for market.
a standard of measurement. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes meaningful metrics that can be used in effective business plans for commercializing ideas and technologies.
A qualitative expression of a brand’s recognition in the market. Mindshare refers to how often a particular brand (product or company) is evoked (or thought of) when individuals are asked to think about a particular Category.
Memorandum of understanding. A legal document describing an agreement between parties. It is less formal and less comprehensive than a contract. An MOU is generally considered to be an interim or partial agreement, on topics on which there is accord. An MOU generally implies that something more is eventually expected.
Original equipment manufacturer. The original manufacturer of hardware or a sub-component. In the context of Channels and Markets, an OEM may be a potential Customer or Licensee for an idea or a technology. OEMs integrate licensed technologies into their own products, under their own brands.
Office of technology transfer
see Technology Transfer.
An individual or entity with whom an inventor or business enters into a business agreement in which it is expected that each party will benefit about equally from the agreement. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ addresses the concept of partnerships as part of a discussion about Paths to Market and Ecosystems.
Path to market
The route, or path, that a product or technology will travel to get from its originator (the manufacturer or inventor) to the customer and its end users. When commercializing a technology idea, it is important to determine what Path(s) to Market are available. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter devoted to defining and leveraging Paths to Market.
A term used in business modeling to describe the financial opportunity and expected Return On Investment (ROI) of a particular business opportunity. The Payback Scenario forecasts revenues from various streams and shows at what point it is expected that the business will recover the entire investment.
The process of defining the unique value proposition that an idea, product or service offers to customers – something desirable that the Competitors do not (and would find it hard to) offer. This is a critical concept in the process of commercializing an idea. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ devotes a chapter to competitive Positioning.
An item of information or supporting fact used to demonstrate that a claim is valid. When presenting an idea or technology to potential investors, it is important to include proof points surrounding the idea’s viability in the market as well as the team’s ability to execute on the idea. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ provides guidelines regarding the type of proof points that investors require to make funding decisions.
In business terms, this is the entity that licenses a patent, technology or product.
An organization that sells a product on behalf of its manufacturer. A reseller is one example of a Channel.
Return on Investment. Precisely, this is the amount, expressed as a percentage, that is earned on a company's total capital calculated by dividing the total capital into earnings before interest, taxes, or dividends are paid. Colloquially, ROI is often used to express the idea that the benefit gained through any type of investment (e.g. time, resources) outweighs the investment.
The process of estimating the amount of sales expected over a particular period of time. It generally considers factors such as past sales volumes, general economic and industry conditions, relationship of the organization's sales to macroeconomic indicators, relative product profitability, market research studies, prices policies advertising, quality of the sales force, competition, seasonal variations and productive capacity. The sales forecast is the usual starting point of the budgeting process. Two methods can be used:
Bottom-up sales forecasting: forecasting the units or volume or number of each product or license that will be sold in a given period of time. This method calculates by estimating demand by adding up potential customer sales vs. the top down market forecasting approach.
Top-down sales forecasting: forecasting that is calculated based upon addressable market size and the proportion of that addressable market the company expects to capture in a given period of time.
A definable segment of an Industry. For example, within the healthcare sector, like sub-groups of businesses make up sectors, such as private clinics versus public healthcare providers.
Describes a technology-based company that has not yet established commercial operations and which is typically still engaged in research and product development.
An investment strategy in which investors build their portfolios with early-stage companies that have not yet fully established commercial operations, and which are typically still in the stage of research and product development. Seed financing is a high-risk type of investment, and while these investors tolerate risk, they also expect to be rewarded for taking those risks. When an early-stage technology company is seeking seed-stage financing, the stakes are high and investors will ask hard questions. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ is devoted to helping technical specialists articulate the business opportunity that their ideas represent, in terms that will be compelling to investors and other business backers.
An identifiable sub-group within a Market, whose members who share similar needs. Members of a segment also naturally tend to reference each other when considering what to buy.
A trademark of wendykennedy.com inc.. It is a tool used to brainstorm, or “profile” a typical target customer. It is a powerful tool for making Markets “come to life” during the process of defining the Commercialization opportunities for an Idea.
Sales, General and Administration. That part of a company’s activities (and expenses) that is concerned with operations, sales, general and administrative functions.
So What? Who Cares? Why You?™
A trademark of wendykennedy.com inc. It is a proven methodology to discover and articulate the commercial opportunity that great technical ideas represent. It helps technical specialists to effectively communicate innovation and the commercial opportunity that an innovation represents. It is also the title of a book, So What? Who Cares? Why You?™ : The Inventor’s Commercialization Toolkit, devoted to giving inventors and tech entrepreneurs the guidance they need to turn good ideas into great business opportunities.
In the context of business and marketing, a Story is a clear, concise and compelling explanation of an idea, technology or product in terms that customers and investors can appreciate. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ devotes a chapter to crafting a successful story as part of the process of commercializing an idea or technology.
A tool that maps the storyline for an idea or technology that is to be commercialized. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ devotes a chapter to crafting a successful story as part of the process of commercializing an idea or technology.
A Segment (i.e. definable portion) of an available market on which a company chooses to focus and proactively sell into.
A phrase used by wendykennedy.com inc. to describe the suitability of a particular team of people to the commercialization of their idea, technology or product. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a chapter that helps inventors and tech entrepreneurs assess their team’s suitability for the commercialization task.
The process of converting science and technology findings from research laboratories into commercially viable products that may be licensed by or sold to third parties. Many universities, government organizations and large enterprises include technology transfer functions. A technology transfer office is often the hub of these activities, working closely with the scientists and researchers to evaluate their work for commercial purposes. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ helps technology transfer offices, organizations and individuals to evaluate and articulate the commercial potential of scientific ideas.
Time to market
An expression of how long an idea or product is expected to take to get from inception to market availability (i.e. when will it be saleable?).
Time to revenue
An expression of how long an idea or product is expected to take to get from inception to revenue stage (i.e. when will it start making money?).
see Value Ladder.
A metaphor that describes the Incumbents in a Market in terms of their Market Share and Mind Share. The top three Incumbents are said to occupy the top three rungs of the Value Ladder. Read the book, So what? who cares? why you?™ for details.
Also called Value Proposition. This is a statement of the value that an idea, technology, product or company offers to its customers and/or partners. A Value Statement is expressed from the perspective of the audience and addresses either how the product saves the customer money, or how it helps the customer make money. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ includes a section devoted to helping inventors and tech entrepreneurs determine and express their Value Statements.
Investment that is used to support new or unusual undertakings; equity, risk or speculative investment capital. Venture capital is provided to new or existing firms that exhibit potential for above-average growth. Venture capital often focuses on emerging markets, and venture capitalists often foster new venture creation. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ is devoted to helping inventors and tech entrepreneurs to obtain venture capital and other sources of funding for their ideas.
Over-used words that lack substance and which should not be used when presenting ideas to investors, customers, partners, etc. Common weasel words in the technology environment are: multi-services, full-featured, leading-edge, world expert, platform agnostic, etc. The book, So what? who cares? why you?™ helps inventors and tech entrepreneurs to articulate their ideas for commercialization in compelling ways that do not use weasel words.