Deep Tech Startups Developing innovative innovations with the power to really revolutionize society. The founding team members of these companies often have a deep technical background, which allows for rapid product advancement, but can lead to bottlenecks on the go-to-market side.
In this post, I’ll outline the answers to four key questions about early-stage marketing in deep tech companies that are post-revenue:
- What Marketing Teams Do in Deep Tech Companies.
- When should the marketing team be hired?
- Whether the marketing team needs industry experience.
- How to source and evaluate talent for the marketing team.
From this post, deep tech startups can formulate their marketing hiring strategy and attract and nurture top talent to advance their go-to-market plan. Without doing business, even the most groundbreaking innovations will not have the intended effect.
What do marketing teams do in deep tech companies?
To set the context, I’ll share below the typical projects of deep tech marketing teams that differ from marketing in other industries due to greater product focus and complexity, regulatory oversight, and longer time to market.
Go to the market
Marketers use the power of intellectual property to build collaborations with large corporations such as pharmaceutical companies and institutions such as government, universities or hospitals. To this end, marketers develop creative ways to gather lists and information about key contacts from these potential partners. They also build sales assurances like demo videos, pitch decks, and one-pagers to more effectively reach and build long-term relationships with these prospects.
In a broader sense, marketers develop the go-to-market strategy beyond partnerships. To this end, marketers conduct in-depth market research on business models, monetization strategies, and reimbursement channels.
Marketers create original content to help establish the company as a thought leader, build corporate brand credibility through social media, and request awards and honors to validate the business solution’s potential.
Marketers work with finance and product teams to formulate predictions as the company moves into the clinical phase.
When should deep tech companies hire marketers?
The CEO and other founding team members do marketing work during the training phase to better understand and empathize with the needs, skills, and opportunities in the department before hiring someone full-time.
Once the product shows signs of repeatable revenue, a marketing lead is required. This is particularly important before a large series A round, after a small series A round or when a business partner has expressed interest in larger, long-term contracts. Instead of the typical title of Chief Marketing Officer or Chief Revenue Officer, deep tech startups refer to this person as the Chief Commercial Officer or Chief Partnerships Officer.
For additional support in the start-up phase, companies hire MBA interns and work together with their investors. Prior to Series A, deep tech venture capital fund platform teams support marketing by running marketing projects for their portfolio companies, developing a long-term marketing strategy with founders, by holding regular feedback sessions, and bringing founders together with verified marketing companies or agencies.
For companies that need FDA approval, commercial advisors, consultants, and board members fully adopt the partnership strategy (which is the bulk of the marketing needs) before the Series A round. External consultants such as marketing agencies can also take on major projects such as the start strategy. External consultants can then join the team when their performance is strong.
For drug development companies, the marketing manager is most important as the company enters the clinical phase and prepares for studies regardless of the funding phase.
Do marketing staff need industry experience?
Of course, it’s ideal to hire someone with experience in sales and someone who is familiar with complex supply chains and long sales cycles. However, if you are choosing between someone with functional expertise but no industry expertise and someone with industry experience but limited or no functional expertise, it is better to hire the former candidate and use the rest of the team for expertise. Deep tech is a niche area so the other team members can help the marketer develop industry expertise.