How the 'Team' Page Differs in Biotech vs Web Startups

I’ve been spending more time exploring the biotechnology startup world lately, and it’s quite interesting to see its many differences from the consumer web startup world that I’ve become familiar with. In particular, I’ve noticed many ways in which their executive teams differ in their structure and presentation on websites.

In this post, I’m going to list some observations that I’ve made, and then give some explanations that will hopefully account for these observations. I’ve picked a few startup team pages that I’ll be basing my observations on.

Biotech:

Web:

Observations

  1. Biotech startups have ‘heftier’ titles. Web startups have much simpler titles or no titles at all. The biotech startups have multiple C-level executives, SVPs, VPs, and Directors. On the other hand, if you look at the web startups, you sometimes can’t even tell who the founders are.

  2. Biotech startups show only the top-level executive and management teams. Web startups tend to show their entire team, and they don’t differentiate between different roles. Technial and non-technical roles are all placed equally.

  3. The images of all the biotech team members are taken in formal attire, whereas all of the web startup team pictures are in informal clothing.

  4. Biotech startups heavily emphasize the advanced degrees and educational background of their management team. Most web startup team members don’t have advanced degrees, and educational background is often left out.

The Differences

  1. The biggest difference between biotech and web startups that results in these observations is size. In general, biotech startups need a lot more manpower and funding than web startups to get off the ground. As a result, these larger biotech startups require a larger management team to deal with a multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, and business people.

  2. The problems that most biotech startups are deeper and more complex than what the average web startup is working on. It seems that PhDs are generally necessary to make the scientific breakthrough that will drive the growth of a biotech startup. In contrast, many brilliant software engineers and entrepreneurs don’t even have a college degree! The average person probably won’t understand what a biotech startup is working on, but will have a pretty good grasp of what most web startups are working on.

  3. As a result, the average age at a biotech startup is slightly older, as most have completed advanced degree programs. This seems to lead to a slightly more formal environment.

  4. Nearly all biotech startups have tight relationships with academic institutions and large biomedical or pharmaceutical corporations, and as a result, seem to be influenced by a more bureaucratic kind of culture.

As I’ve been learning about this biotech space, it’s been interesting to notice its differences from the web startup world. I’ve only been looking into the biotech startup for a few months now, and so I don’t really know the intricacies of how the biotech startup space looks like. As I continue to explore this space further, I’m sure I’ll continue to learn more and understand better the influential factors that make biotech a very different space than the Silicon Valley startup culture.