The Commercialization Process

On June 18, 2013 Dan Mathers (Investment Accelerator Fund) presented to a full house of Hamilton Innovators at Innovation Factory’s June Lunch ‘n Learn (sponsored by KPMG).

Dan’s presentation, titled “Financing your Business: How to turn “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly,” into “Good, Better, Best” was both engaging and informative (click here for a copy of Dan’s slides).

Dan is President of IronBit Consulting Inc. Dan has more than 25 years of experience building and leading technology businesses, and has led all sizes of businesses from large divisions of multi-nationals, to involvement as part of the leadership team for multiple start-ups. These businesses have created more than $1 billion in shareholder value.

He has also spent much of the last 6 years coaching and mentoring more than 100 early and late stage startups from across multiple industry sectors.

Currently, Dan is the Investment Director for the Investment Accelerator Fund, and is responsible for driving all of the investments in the South Western Ontario. He is also an embedded executive with several promising Ontario technology startups.

In addition, Dan is currently a member of the Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards for several organizations.



I described the Commercialization Process in another blog post. Here, I will re-iterate two examples from my talk at Innovation Factory as they relate to an often-neglected step: Go-To-Market Strategy. This is a critical step for success that needs to be performed BEFORE development. This is where you identify who your target market is, what problem you are going to solve for them, how they make their purchasing decisions, and how you intend to convince them to buy your product or service.

One of the two examples I gave during my talk is how my team learned the prerequisites for adoption for a biotechnology device aimed for the pharmaceutical industry. Rather than jumping into development and engineering, our team visited our target customers to observe how they performed the tasks we were looking to simplify for them. In addition to observing a “normal day in the lab,” we learned about their budget cycles, how decisions were made about major purchases and what evidence was required to make scientists trust an instrument. This information became the basis for our development effort, allowing us to set development priorities according to what the customers cared about and what they could live without. In addition, we made early prototypes available to produce the scientific evidence required to prove that our product indeed helped pharmaceutical customers. The end-result is a product named CellKey™ that has been in the market since 2005 and continues to help pharmaceutical research today.

Another example I gave is the Softchoice Cloud business line, which I brought to market in 2012. In the earlier stages of the initiative, we identified different market segments, and their preferences and unmet needs. Accordingly, we developed different solutions for different markets. For example, small business owners wanted an easy, no-obligation way to try software before buying it. Enterprise decision-makers, on the other hand, needed consultation to create custom solutions to address each customer’s complex IT situation and future goals. As a result, our development and marketing efforts focused on addressing the specific needs of each segment separately, prioritizing features that supported these needs and removing others.

In summary, I strongly recommend entrepreneurs to stop before rolling up their sleeves for development and plan out what their business will look like when they are done and how they will penetrate the market. Giving proper attention to these two important steps before development will pay off when the stress of development builds up.

I welcome your comments or inputs to my blog. You may reach me at [email protected] or read my other posts at

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