by Jeremy M. Ben-David, Founder, Managing Partner

Dear Faith,

I assume that it’s ok for me to address you by your first name. Even if you go by a different name, ‘Faith’ is what drives you and this is how you appear to the world. I say this based on decades of experience, during which I have met many entrepreneurs who are all connected via a common thread, namely, having had a moment of inspiration, the germination of an idea, a technology, or a business . Almost always in embryonic form, often no more than a twinkle in your eye, you can envision what the mature ‘adult’ venture will look like. It may not turn out exactly as you envision, but at this initial moment of conception, that’s not as important as the faith and belief that you have in your vision.

First, I would like to offer you a word of caution. You will probably encounter naysayers along the way, those who will point out, negatively, the amount of time, energy and money that you will need to invest in your venture, emphasizing the sacrifices that you will need to make and portraying your impending journey as one step too far, a mountain too high, and so on.

Of course, you will need to invest time, energy and money. We are familiar with the well know Chinese proverb “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step“. However, this should not dissuade you; to the contrary, you should be encouraged by the magnitude of the journey on which you are about to embark! How many people have that opportunity in life?

For sure, you will need to make a business plan, a plan of operation, and you will need to raise funds. But none of that should put you off. Not with the faith that you have, both in yourself and in your partners on this journey.

Second, I would like to offer some advice based on my experience not just as a Patent Attorney, but also as someone who has seen and accompanied startups over the years. My advice essentially consists of a single word: 

Breathe.

Now I know that such advice may not sound like much, but if you’ve ever tried it, it’s a marvelous way of getting oxygen to the brain; and that, in turn, enables us to think clearly. This is required so as to decide on the short-term and medium-term goals, the steps that are necessary to attain the goals, and partners that may be helpful in doing so.

When I say ‘partners’, I don’t necessarily mean other individuals who will become joint owners. I am referring to advisors and mentors, legal and financial professionals, and engineers or others with technical skills that your venture may require. 

However, now that I have raised the question of joint ownership with one or more others, this is not necessarily a bad idea. If you’ve ever heard people talk about it being ‘lonely at the top’, it doesn’t need to be, but it often is. Think about moving ahead with others who are equally committed to your vision. Those who will invest the time and effort in advancing common goals, to say nothing of a common vision. This is valuable especially during early phases of growth, when sleep is short, brows are furrowed and financial reward is limited or non-existent. Having to share the rewards is a small price to pay for success!

A further advantage of breathing is that it helps you to listen to people that you turn to for advice. Among those people may be a Patent Attorney, particularly if your venture includes technology of any sort. For many people in your position, this will be the first time that they have spoken to someone like me, and much of your prior knowledge of patents will be based on what you have read in a newspaper or on social media. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions floating around when it comes to patents, especially when fueled by partial truth and political agendas. So don’t be surprised if what I tell you is different.

In fact, I can almost guarantee that what I have to tell you about Provisionals, Patent Trolls, Big Pharma, and China will be different to what you read online. This is not a specific invitation to discuss these subjects. It is, however, a suggestion not to prejudge advice that you may receive. When considering patents for your specific venture, there are a number of questions that you should be considering, including: do I have any patentable inventions? If I do, do I need patents and if so, in which countries, and why there? What purpose will patents serve my venture? How should I go about finding out the answers? How much will it cost and is the money that I spend a net cost or an investment? How long will it take? What’s involved in the patenting process?

In addition to asking questions, you should be prepared to receive unexpected answers, such as “your technology does not fall into a patentable category” or “your invention is not yet sufficiently developed to be patentable” or “is not sufficiently new”.  The job of a Patent Attorney is to listen carefully to your questions, and based on what you tell them not just about your inventions, but of no less importance, also about your business vision, to advise you how to move forward. 

Finally, I’d like to inject a word of realism.

The first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, is known to have said that “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.” 

I’m not saying that the success of a new venture depends on miracles. Not at all. But as we all know, success is far from guaranteed. However, few miracles have been achieved without at least a little faith, and I suspect that the same goes for successful startups(!)

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