To prove the commercial potential of our product, we have done market surveys, PMR research, cost-benefit analysis, a SWOT analysis, and created a business model. We have visited potential customers to understand whether they have really suffered from the problem we were trying to solve. Then we evaluated the profitability of our product by estimating the total cost, total revenue, gross margin, and the rate of Return On Investment. Through a SWOT analysis, we understood our product’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. After learning the features and competitive advantage of our product more clearly, we created our own business model to plan for the successful operation of our business, identifying sources of revenue, the intended customer base, products, and details of financing. Finally, in order to find our first pot of gold, we held a fundraising session not only to promote our product but also to build social network. (As in the following picture).
Who are we?
We are CCU iGEM Team,.a group of students from four different colleges and seven different departments at Chung Cheng University, located in southern Taiwan. With enthusiasm and determination, we hope to change the status quo, to try to help solve a major problem in the community, by developing an instrument to detect the risk of tooth decay–Carindex.
What are we trying to do?
The team is currently developing a saliva test for dental caries - Carindex.
According to statistics, among Taiwanese adults, eighty percent will suffer from dental caries, but using current medical technology, preventative detection of dental caries and oral risk assessment is not a complete system.
Therefore, the team wanted to detect the concentration of Lactobacillus and Streptococcus mutans through the device and analyze the process of oral dental caries, and combine the biological data using machine learning to assess the risk of suffering from dental caries to achieve early warning.
What have we done?
Since one of our goals is to win the entrepreneurship special prize, so we participated in the "MIT beyond food mini bootcamp" held in Taiwan. During this two-day camp, we learned a lot from many professional entrepreneurs in this field and experienced operation of as businessman. This helped us have a clear and better idea for our entrepreneurship plan.
After the training, we try to put into practice. We have done…
- SWOT analysis
To find our strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats we face, we used a business SWOT analysis for our product, specifying our goal, including internal and external factors.
Furthermore, this will help us build a successful selling strategy in the future.
- Business model
A business model which consists of value proposition, customer segment, key partners, cost structure and revenue stream describes the rationale of how an organization creates value in economic or other contexts. It’s also a part of the process of building a business strategy.
- Description of Value Proposition
This is a way to summarize why consumers should buy our product. It also examines beliefs of the customer (like how this product’s value and benefit will be delivered).
- Description of Customer Segments
This relies on identifying key differentiators that divide customers into groups that can be targeted.
- Description of cost structure and revenue streams
To keep our business working, the cost structure and revenue streams will help us to achieve the purpose. It’s also very important to assess the future blueprint of the product and provide a visual map of our business.
- Description of costumer relationship－Risk Analysis
To improve business relationships with customers and ultimately keep sales smooth, customers retention is very important. To achieve this, we used Risk Analysis to anticipate unexpected situations that might happen when using product, so that we can keep the customer satisfied.
- Michael Porter's Five Forces Model
This can help us assess our attractiveness and competitiveness with the customer, competitors and suppliers.
- Patent application
- Gantt Chart for the future plan
In the future, we will try to raise brand value and improve the quality of our products. For this part, we use Gantt Chart to make a future blueprint for our product and business.
a SWOT analysis
|1. Using machine learning can determine the accuracy of the results
2. The process and the way to use is very simple
3. The effect of rapid, can be informed in advance of the oral health situation
4. Easy to carry
5. It can be used at any time, no need to clinics or hospitals
can help user found in the early tooth decay, reducing the user's need for
|1. It can only be detected for tooth decay, and can not be used for other common oral diseases with the test (ex. Periodontal disease, oral cancer)
2. Need to collect a large amount of data for the data base otherwise the product test results will be inaccurate
3. It has not yet applied for patent protection
4. The brand awareness is low
|1. Taiwan people for the awareness of oral health gradually rise, and willing to spend more on it
2. It is currently no competitor in Taiwan
3. It can reduce the waste of medical resources
4. Some countries have expensive medical expenses, and this product can save their expenses in dental care
synthesis biology of the relevant applications for the future trendy
|1. There are a variety of ways of tooth decay, this practice is not unique
2. There are health insurance systems in Taiwan, and the community has no need for medical-related products
China has launched in May this year to detect plaque, dental calculus, tooth
decay and periodontal disease home products
Description of Customer Segments
After the market survey, we found that Taiwan is very concerned about children’s oral health. When we actually inquired of parents, they told us sometimes children are afraid to see a doctor, so they do not go to the dentist until they cannot stand the pain, which might be too late. Additionally, they also told us both parents and schools are conducting three-month dental examinations for cavities.
However, the dentist can help the school do the dental checkup only every half year or year, so the primary schools we interviewed responded that they are very interested in our product and willing to do business with us in the future. For example, they can use our products every three months as an initial inspection to identify those students who have cavities. After that, they will inform parents to take their kids to see the dentist, knowing the children's oral condition in advance.
According to this result, we have interviewed those primary schools again. Most of them have committed to purchase it in the future as long as our product has been launched.
(Among the primary schools we visited 73% are willing to use our product to do regular dental health examinations for school children in the future. The other 27% of primary schools that are remote from cities have no intention of using it, since the children who study there are being reared by grandparents who do not think doing dental examination every three months is very essential.
Based on those results, we described our target market as “Taiwan national primary schools in cities."
(Actually, we have visited eleven primary schools, but not all of them were willing to take a photo. We just got five here)
How are we done to know our customers’ needs?
1. Online product form survey and PMR survey: In the early production of products, we real took to the streets, to understand the real needs of users. We expect that our products can be more in line with the needs of users. Therefore, we conducted a survey through PMR (Persistence Market Research) to know the oral status of the community in Taiwan, and whether they have right concept of oral health care, we conducted an online form survey to observe the idea of our development of the product in the community is not really need or not.
2. Actually interviewed a representative numbers for our potential customers and demonstrated a minimum viable product：Although the target market we put on primary schools and the end users are the students study there, without parents who can supports those schools won’t accepted this proposal as well. Because the students’ parents are the person who can influence the decision of the school, we have interviewed 189 parents by working with nearby sightseeing areas, setting up a small booth at low prices, demonstrating how to use the original version of the prototype, and explaining the technology used inside. Besides, in order to better understand the stall efficiency, we participated in let the public do the before and after test, the following are the analysis results.
3. We visited Mr. Uily, the president of the dental technology company New Teeth (新芽) and Professor Zhong-guang Chen of National Yunlin University of Science and Technology. In order to make our products meet the needs of the market and be more in line with the needs of users, we invited Mr. Uily to discuss with us the development of the device. In the course of the discussion, we learned about many of the products on the market, and did an in-depth analysis and discussion of the relevant products. We absorbed the relevant advantages of those production, and applied the knowledge to our products, help to improve our product planning structure. On the other hand, we also invited National Yunlin University of Science and Technology Professor Zhong-guang Chen to teach us about the establishment of product business model design, and help us in the subsequent commercialization of the product.
Description of Value Proposition
Although the target group mentioned above is metropolitan national primary schools, in fact the real end users are children, so we expanded our understanding of the oral status of small children by asking a dentist who is the Managing Director of Taiwan Oral Care Association and really cared about children’s dental health.
At first, we did not understand the importance of the deciduous teeth. After asking the physician how a child's deciduous teeth compared to adults, we got the information that most children's oral condition is divided into two parts, one is the deciduous teeth and other one is permanent teeth. The deciduous teeth are small and also relatively thin, so the nerve tube is proportionally thicker. If a child gets a cavity, it will hurt immediately. If the deciduous teeth are not deal with, it will also affect the growth of permanent teeth in the future. Additionally, as we mentioned above, children are afraid to see the dentist, they always don’t inform their parents till they feel the pain, which might be too late.
Therefore, the value of our products is to help parents and the schools in advance to understand the children's oral condition about tooth decay risk, reduce unnecessary pain and follow-up costs in the future.
Description of costumer relationship
This will help us identify and understand the risks that we might face in the future. To prepare beforehand, we have to manage these risks, and minimize their impact on the product through Risk Assessment.
Analysis of Event Risks
Table 1. The things may happen to our product
Form of Risk Assessment
Table 2. The degree of possibility, seriousness, detection difficulty, risk of every risk event.
|Items||possibility||seriousness||detection difficulty||When might happen||risk|
|Product arrived in a damaged condition||2||4||2||Before use、be in use||16|
|Product can’t work normally||1||3||1||be in use、after use||3|
|The app can’t receive the data well||1||2||2||After use||4|
|The glass slide is broken||4||1||1||Before use、be in use、after use||4|
Risk Response Planning
|Risk,Events||First response||Further response Planning|
|Product arrived in a damaged condition||First, we have to apologize about that no matter,what. After that, we will try to understand if it get any broken before use.||if our products get any broken before use, we will,replace the new one for free in next shipment.|
|Product can’t work normally||We will try to understand how user used the product.||If it’s still not working, we will assign someone for,repairing.
（For,example, maybe the product can’t work normally is because that the accessory,has been loosed or damaged）
|The app can’t receive the data||We will try to understand if user’s phone is,connected to the internet or not.||If the app still can’t receive the data, we will,assign someone for repairing.
（For,example, the app can’t receive the data is,because the data can’t reach,the server）
|The glass slide is broken||We will try to know why the glass slide is broken,first.||Tell user that our essential genes are knocked down and a kill switch is applied to
ensure that the engineered organisms can live only in a limit time after breaking out the device.
The matrix of risk of possibility
*As the color get deeper, the risk will get higher.
Description of Cost and Revenue
To see if our product is viable from an economic point of view, we done a cost-benefit analysis.
Total Capital Investment $958,918
Total Cost of Production $3,918,424
|Cost of device||$26.67|
|Cost of consumables||$1.33|
Gross profit $2,082,557
Return on Investment 37%
The national primary school in all the cities and counties of Taiwan is assumed to be the market in 2018 (referring to the forecast of the Taiwan Ministry of Education for 2017). The following is the predicted value: 1,748 national primary schools in all the cities and counties of Taiwan with a total number of students of 1,098,964
- The average requirement for each national primary school is 3 products and 24,696 consumables
- The total requirement of national primary schools in all the cities and counties of Taiwan is 5244 products and 4,395,856 consumables
- Then, we supposed a 10% error rate requires subsidies, so the total production is 5768 products and 4,835,442 consumables.
Table 1.Device, accessories and consumables specifications.
|GFP activation wavelength||490||nm|
|GFP emission wavelength||510||nm|
Table 2. Value of device and consumables for metropolitan elementary schools for one year, including 10% allowance for error.
|Text paper||13,187,568||Each device consists of three text papers|
|Glass slide||13,187,568||Each device consists of three glass slides.|
|GFP activation wavelength||4,395,856|
|GFP emission wavelength||4,395,856|
The standard work hours differ in every country, the following table is referenced based on the standard work hours in Taiwan.
- The operating days referenced from the policy of one fixed day off and one flexible rest day and chargeable leave
- The operating hours (day) referenced from the work hours of Research and Development Exempt Employee
- The minimum productivity required referenced from the quotation provided by a technology company
Table3. Description of operating conditions
|Minimum productivity,required||17||set /per hour|
To decrease the costs of production, we chose OEM for mass production rather than build a new plant solely for production. In this way, we won’t have to face or solve the problem of management and production.
In order to evaluate the commercial potential of our product, an analysis of the investment required and estimation of the ongoing production costs are necessary.
(This cost refers to the requirements for the production of device and consumables for the primary school in all cities in Taiwan.)
In the process of manufacturing the product needs:
1. Mass production of the product shell
2. Overall product assembly
3. Product packaging
We are using a foundry to reduce the cost of building a new plant and human management problems, and in the production of consumables. In part, we expect a large number of bacteria to be cultured and fixed on a test strip and freeze-dried.
Assuming that all functional bacteria (including the target functional gene plastids) have been successfully established, it is estimated that the culture of one test tube (5 mL) can produce 90 test papers, in order to calculate the cost.( We took Thermofisher company, Meru company, Kingtec company, and Sigma-Aldrich company as references.)
Table 4. Details of mass production
|Glass test tube||1||0.27|
|Test tube cover||1||0.13|
|Test tube rack||1||6.3|
|Pipette tip(5000 μL)||1||tip||0.311|
|Pipette tip(1000 μL)||1||tip||0.11|
|Pipette tip(250 μL)||90||tips||0.086|
|Pipette tip(10 μL)||1||tip||0.024|
|Microcentrifuge tube(1.5 mL)||90||tubes||9.306|
Total Capital Investment
Apart from the mass production cost, the total capital investment includes other expenses. For example, the ISBL investment includes the direct and indirect field when installing the equipment. As for the OSBL investment, we did not account for capital investment because it will be included in OEM charges. Since we will do mass production through OEM, the engineering cost was low. Finally, we estimated the costs of known-unknowns as cost contingency. We also measured the working capital by subtracting current liabilities from current assets.
The employee includes one Software Engineer, three Bioengineers, one Market Research Analyst, and one Brand Supervisor. (Referenced from average obtainable salaries from the job market in Taiwan.)
Total Cost of Production
When we assessed the viability of our business plan, the necessary value is the total cash cost of production and operation expense. This includes the variable and fixed costs of production. The following table showed the estimated total cost of production for this business is $3,918,424 with $127,615 of that being fixed and other operating expense $1,609,186. (The fixed cost of production means the cost that will be incurred regardless of the output and thus regardless of up-scaling that must occur in the future.)
|(Fixed Costs of Production)||Cost (AUD $)|
|Salaries and Wages Expense||9,267|
|(Variable costs of production)||Cost (AUD $)|
|Cost of materials||76,907|
|Packaging and shipping||0|
|Equipment repair costs||1,726|
* Although our consumables seem like it can just be used one time, we have a kill switch to let we recycle them after customers have used. We try to avoid of doing great harm to environment in this way, so we put its cost into the environment charges.
Other operating Expense
|Items||Cost (AUD $)|
|Tax expense||Cost (AUD $)|
Margins and Profits
We assume each device is valued at $26.67 and consumables are valued at $1.33, 35% gross margin and 37% return on investment will be achieved in the first year of production, with a gross profit of $2,082,557. It can be seen that it has a significant return on investment.
|Margins and Profits|
|Cost of device||26.67|
|Cost of consumables||1.33|
|Return on Investment||37%|
We calculated based on the assumption that our product will be mass produced by OEM company and sold to the primacy schools directly. This process will be out-sourced, so product suppliers have to cover a part of production costs. In this process we have to ensure the energy supply, we also have inventory to ensure that if the product is defective or damaged it can be replaced in a timely manner, however, this will not be profit, but self-absorption. To reduce the cost of waste due to overproduction, we will take pre-orders and sign contracts with the schools for a period of one month to confirm that the amount of each production is in line with the market. By determining of the amounts of devices and consumables beforehand, we can sell the product in better condition. Besides, we hope that we could attract government subsidy of the costs of production in the future via cooperation.
The following table is the details of the cost of the equipment, supplies, and medicine mentioned before
|Erlenmeyer flask(1000 mL)||3||16|
|Erlenmeyer flask(500 mL)||3||10|
|Erlenmeyer flask(250 mL)||5||11.67|
|Erlenmeyer flask(125 mL)||5||9.17|
|Serum bottle(1000 mL)||3||36|
|Serum bottle(500 mL)||3||30.4|
|Serum bottle(250 mL)||5||48|
|Falcon tube(50 mL)||25||9.07|
|Test tube rack||5||31.5|
|Horizontal electrophoresis system||1||35.2|
|Vertical electrophoresis system||1||28.67|
|Pipette tip(5000 μL)||1||66.85|
|Pipette tip(1000 μL)||1||84|
|Pipette tip(250 μL)||1||82.23|
|Pipette tip(10 μL)||1||24.33|
|Microcentrifuge tube(1.5 mL)||1||25.85|
|Microcentrifuge tube(0.5 mL)||1||63.3|
|Alcohol resistant marker||6||19|
|Plasmid extraction kit||1||130|
|Gel extraction kit||1||146.67|
|Ammonium iron(III) citrate||1||26.67|
|Magnesium chloride hexahydrate||1||32.8|
|T4 DNA Ligase_NEB||1||64|
Michael Porter's Five Forces Model
|Existing Competitors (Competitor Analysis)||High entry barriers to those foreign brands|
|Potential competitors||Patent protection Brand awareness Conversion cost Capital requirements Government policy|
|supplier||1. The supplier's product has a key position on the success of the buyer (not very critical)
2. Suppliers tend to integrate forward
3. There is no suitable substitute for the purchaser
4. Maintain the market by a small number of suppliers (not very critical)
|Customer||Concentration of users: urban schools are not far from the distance, but also save
transportation costs The school's purchase is very large and stable Consumers
have purchasing power Products for the standardization of production, can
reduce costs The information of the purchaser is sufficient
|Substitutes||1. Substitutes have lower relative prices
2. Substitutes have a strong function
In order to make our products for the market, and ensure our intellectual property rights can be fully protected, we visited the Taiwan Ministry of Interior Trade Patent Commissioner, Mr. Cho-han Wu. We explained the current situation of our products, and to asked a lot of questions about Taiwan and US patent law. In the course of the discussion, we understood the importance of the use of patent protection, and we also learned a lot of about patent law.
For the machine learning, we will collect more data to make the prediction model more accurate.
For the APP, we will beautify the interface and also try to make our product allow personalization and customization.
For the device, we will make our product able to load a large amount of consumptive materials at once and add extra space for activating them.
For the bacteria detected, we will make our product detect more varieties of bacteria which affect our oral condition.
After we finish improving about our product, we will try to expand the market.
Our future plan is divided into two parts, one applying for the patents, the other expanding our home-based market.
(The following web address is the whole Website which we build for our customers contacting with us in the future.)
Apply for patents
First of all, we will modify the consumptive materials so a large amount can be mounted at once, so that we can satisfy the primary school demands to reduce the effort preparing the units. We will try to apply for a provisional application from United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Expand consumption market
To expand our consumption market we will make our product suitable for home use. We focused both on markets in Taiwan and other countries including Macao, Hong Kong, China, and United States. There is a comprehensive health insurance system in Taiwan, so if we want to make our product for home use we have to cooperate with dentists who are professionals in this field. Dentists can help us to promote the product to their patients.In addition, we will in the next two years cooperate with dentists to obtain marketing endorsements to help us to promote the product, while dentists can also use our products for their customers to establish a dedicated database, to assist the dentist in tracking the oral condition of the client, and to increase the loyalty of the customer to the dentist's clinic and to increase the customer's satisfaction. We have visited some dentists, who said if our product is more developed (more personalization and customization), they will be very willing to cooperate with us to create a win-win situation.
Furthermore, to get into the foreign market, the cost of foreign clinics compared to Taiwan is much higher, so we hope that by using our products to understand their own oral condition it could reduce the cost of regular evaluation and treatment. By doing so, it would not only help people avoid more serious future oral conditions with higher costs but also save time for follow-up treatment. To meet different countries’ policies and consumer behavior, we not only designed a questionnaire but also figured out how to get into those market we plan to target. We sent this form to countries where the medical environment is better, but the cost is also relatively high, such as: Macao, Hong Kong, China and the United States (Total 80 samples).
The results showed that: