Sloan Foster talks about IdealAsset
Where are you from originally?
Lompoc, California – a little coastal town north of Santa Barbara. Lompoc is home to Vandenberg Air Force base where the military and now private companies launch missiles.
What university did you go to?
Central Washington University where I majored in Business and Marketing.
What brought you to Austin?
IBM hired me soon after the Tivoli merger to work in Business Development; so, we moved down from Dallas after spending five years there.
What is your group’s mission?
To insure the best innovation and intellectual property is put into the best, most capable companies to maximize that innovation’s global potential.
What need does it fulfill?
There is a vacuum in the buying/selling/licensing of brilliant innovation. The leading firms are essentially “privateering” the business to serve their own economic interests first – think non-practicing entities (aka: patent trolls); then, perhaps their client’s.
idealAsset is democratizing the business of transacting and takes no ownership in the patents and IP it sources.
There are millions of patents and other protected innovations in the world today that are sitting idle and/or eventually abandoned simply because they were invented in the “wrong” company – one that doesn’t want to maximize its value.
There is no solution, in any country, attempting to match these idle innovations with the most capable organizations. That’s where we come in.
What exactly does it bring to startups?
IdealAsset brings the ability for start-ups to efficiently source or exhaust off brilliant IP. By aggregating the world’s available Innovation and Intellectual Property and a vast community of IP buyers, idealAsset creates an affordable and accessible solution for the entire Innovation community – from individual inventor to the largest global Innovation holders.
Further, by allowing start-ups an efficient means to acquire patents they have the opportunity to shortcut the risk and process of pursuing their own patents and usually at a cost point well below what they would have spend in their own pursuits. Prosecuting a net new patent application through to issuance can take years and cost more than $25,000 apiece.
What type of startup would benefit from your group?
Start-ups that must rely on IP as a means to operate in a competitive market space. We tend to work with technology, bioscience and medical device start-ups as they tend to be operating in crowded spaces with many well financed incumbents.
What was the most challenging aspect of starting up the initiative?
The biggest challenge has been socializing an entirely new approach to a mature and slow moving industry that has an incumbency of middlemen with little to no incentive for significant change. That and quieting the raucous rhetoric around the need for massive Patent legislation reform by the largest technology firms. The truth is by allowing the market for commercializing IP and patents to mature on its own much of the current day issues with patent trolls and their operating models will wane as new innovation like idealAsset takes hold and obviates that business model.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Most entrepreneurs recognize the need to protect their ideas – through patenting, or copyright or simply trade secret efforts (keeping their secret sauce, well, secret). That said they look at this effort as a tactical effort with a specific start/stop timeframe. Investors tend to “check the box” with asking if start-ups have protected their ideas.
Innovation and intellectual property is a cornerstone strategy to any eager start-up’s success.
Markets are dynamic, R&D expenditures in the US are nearly $2.0 Trillion, yes with a “T” so people and corporations are inventing all day, every day. Keeping tabs on innovation and new ideas should be as routine as your quarterly financials; finding and partnering with IP service providers can help keep a successful start-up out of (operating) trouble for years to come.
What Austin-based resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?
There is a very experienced ecosystem of IP service providers to help entrepreneurs and start-ups with their IP initiatives – IP centric law firms, investors, commercialization partners: Dubois, Bryant, Campbell for IP prosecution, AcclaimIP for patent assessment and analytics, dozens of IP brokers with access to the world’s best IP from leading corporations.
2) Outsource development firms like Calavista Software – which I have used in 3 of my last start-ups. While they appear slightly more expensive than hiring your own internal development team – they have vast project/start-up experience and their development success rate (on time/on budget/as envisioned product) exceeds 90%; 100% for my companies. They are simply a more capital efficient expenditure when weighing FCS risk to cost ratios.