Canswers was conceived as a way to mine vast amounts of otherwise
unused cancer data and create a virtual tool that could be used
in diagnosing and recommending treatment for patients. Over the
course of several years, this relationship spanned the full lifecycle
that Lighthouse's clients often follow. It began with a short
and finite project, grew into a longer-term series of efforts
requiring ongoing support from Lighthouse, and ultimately transitioned
to a less time intense and periodic executive advisory role.
- Canswers was knowledgeable in the area of medical research
and analysis, and had some unique knowledge related to cancer.
However, it had limited cancer data and no direct experience
in using technology to mine and manipulate that data for bioinformatic
- Canswers was conceived by a small group of young entrepreneurs
who lacked direct experience in starting and growing a business.
- Canswers was only an idea at the time Lighthouse was engaged.
No product existed, there were no customers, and no actual business
plan had been established.
- The market Canswers wanted to pursue was crowded, with well-financed,
Lighthouse recommended a gradual, methodical approach to the
set of challenges faced by Canswers. When Lighthouse was introduced
to Canswers there were many uncertainties that could have taken
the business a number of directions. Lighthouse felt it was important
not to over-commit the client either to the unknown business or
to a lengthy consulting contract. The following steps were taken
one at a time, each building on the one before:
The skills and assets of the company were evaluated against
potential markets and market sectors available to find the best
fit to meet the company's goals. This in-depth analysis resulted
in a significant and ultimately beneficial shift away from the
original concept for the business.
- Once a more
targeted market was identified, Lighthouse worked closely with
the client on an in-depth study of the market. This process
provided necessary insight on the scope of the market, its accessibility,
and discovery of the unique niche and positioning the company
unique to the market and more aligned with the strengths inherent
in the company. Lighthouse was then engaged to help the company
develop a comprehensive business plan.
With a plan in place, Lighthouse was retained to help define
the resources - employees, partners, and advisors - that would
be needed to establish and build the business. Job descriptions,
budget, recruiting strategies, and other elements designed,
reflected both the goals and resource limitations.
- Lighthouse assisted Canswers
in supplementing its full-time staff with a broadly skilled
and seasoned board of advisors. This board not only provided
short-term capacity and depth, but also long-term guidance,
reality-checks, and credibility.
- as well as the execution of work plans. Throughout
its engagement Lighthouse played the dual role of coaching the
company's President in his own personal role while advising
the company in a broader sense. This was enormously valuable
to enabling this chief executive to mature quickly as a new
entrepreneur without causing his company to wait or falter in
Over three years many successes - small, large, personal, corporate
- were achieved. Those successes included:
- Trending Canswers away from things not core to strengths,
towards things that are.
- The shear ability of Canswers to survive and succeed with
no outside capital and in a down market.
- Establishment of key data and technology partnerships with
- Creation and growth of a network of customer relationships
building credibility for future sales.
- Recruiting experienced, talented employees to the team, even
given the inherent risks.