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Offering a Product or a Service?

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By the time BioForum joined SmartUp, there was a pressing need for global marketing to gain new customers based on ‘BioForum’s advantage of automated data services.

BioForum is an established CRO company offering a wide range of consulting services, medical writing, data management, biostatistical support, and monitoring analysis. BioForum met SmartUp when they had already successfully managed their company for 14 years. They knew the field of data management of clinical trials and dominated the Israeli market but aspired to scale globally.

Among the services: are CDISC (Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium), converting clinical data to electronic data and building automated solutions based on ODM (Operational Data Model), SDTM (Study Data Tabulation Model), and ADaM (Analysis Data Model). The company’s vision is to offer a full suite of services for collecting the information, drafting the protocol, building a database, organizing the contract with hospitals, and submitting the trial results to the FDA according to all FDA requirements.

By the time BioForum joined SmartUp, there was a pressing need for global marketing to gain new customers based on ‘BioForum’s advantage of automated data services. Eyal Wultz, president and co-founder: “Currently, other vendors in the industry do it manually or semi-automatically, and it is not very efficient. The pharma companies must allocate approximately 700 hours of specialized clinical data programming for each trial they want to submit to the FDA. Each trial has a unique script, and ‘it’s thrown in the trash after the trial. The data would have looked different in each trial because ‘there’s no unified standard. We created an automated collection, organization, analysis, and reporting process”.”

According to Wultz, creating a unified, orderly, and automated process would significantly reduce costs and schedules. Moreover, it would cure a known “pain”: “The next step was to build such a system. It’s not a trivial task as the data is complex, and each clinical trial probes a different field”.

Bioforum looked for a partner to execute its vision. Wultz: “Meeting SmartUp made sense because of Yonatan’s experience in founding and managing companies in the data field. When BioForum demonstrated its idea of automating the process of clinical trials, Yonatan was excited about the product but immediately objected to how BioForum wanted to position itself. Yonatan’s genius understood that BioForum could still use their product and save most of the costs of men hours while selling a service.

Wultz: “Yonatan insisted our product vision is wrong because the product was too complex. He said it would take us years and requires bundles of capital, and then many years to make it a good product”.

Yonatan suggested a twist: not to develop a product but to wrap the offering as a service, using the automation product internally to help BioForum significantly decrease their costs, delivering that saving to their customers.

Wultz: “Instead of immersing ourselves in years of market development and construction, Yonatan suggested dressing our offering as a service and bypassed the cost and years required to market a new, not perfect product. The shift in the plan enabled us to be ready to market our solution in few weeks”.

According to Wultz, it made sense to choose this strategy: “We contacted our potential customers directly with an attractive offering to deal with their bottleneck of SDTM conversions. If we had selected the product development path, we might still be engrossed in the product development phase. Yonatan directed us to the goal of starting sales as soon as possible, according to the SmartUp principle of becoming profitable as quickly as possible and financing development with revenues. Even if we initially offer customers a basic service, it still gives them tremendous value in saving time and money”.


“Changing our minds and choosing a different path allows us to think differently. Our attitude has changed. It was less important what the technological components were; it was more important to create features that would allow the work to be done quickly and efficiently”.

After joining SmartUp, Bioforum changed its marketing and sales strategy. Wultz: “we now can offer our customers a better result without investing in product development itself. Maybe it’s less elegant, but it works. Our customers are satisfied, and so are we”.

Wultz: “Today, a year after we decided not to create and sell a product, we have positive feedback from the market. There are already some customers, and we are offering it to more new customers. We have reached the scale stage”.

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