The Value In Exploration Of Lesser-Established Business Ventures: Carsten Thiel On Taking The Road Less Traveled

For pharmaceutical-industry leader Carsten Thiel, this exploration of the proverbial road less traveled manifested in his newest appointment as President Europe of EUSA, a breakout biopharma company dedicated to treating rare diseases. A departure from Thiel’s previous positions within more mainstream pharmaceutical companies, vested in the treatment of more globally common ailments, Thiel’s venture into the realm of rare diseases has proven to not only be fruitful from a business perspective, but personally fulfilling, and professionally enthralling. Carsten’s experiences within this particular niche segment of the worldwide juggernaut known as the pharmaceutical industry, though industry specific, can be applied within many professional settings. The intrinsic values of such exploration of uncharted territories can be recognized by effective leaders, innovative CEOs, and all professionals looking to grow their sphere of influence through inventive avenues.

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Tackling The Unknowns

            In the world of pharmacology, several well-researched conditions, diseases, and symptoms dominate the industry, receiving significant amounts of funding, research, and attention from leading companies. Due to the constant influx of resources dedicated to these conditions, there is little left unexplored, and only tweaks being implemented to further evolve products and treatments already proven to provide relief, symptom management, or cures. For example, within the niche of heartburn care, dozens of leading products have flooded the market, providing consumers with numerous choices to make in their care, and providing pharmaceutical companies with a relatively low-risk product.

            While it certainly is important to be able to receive appropriate heartburn care for the often painful condition, oversaturating the market with an overabundance of heartburn related products most likely means that companies aren’t shelling out valuable research and development funds to tackle lesser known ailments. In the pharmaceutical industry, “rare” diseases, or those affecting less than 200,000 individuals in the United States, are vastly less likely to receive attention, rendering them akin to the Wild West of disease. Though each rare disease affects a smaller population at any given time, there are an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 rare diseases in existence throughout the world, adding up to hundreds of thousands of affected individuals. Thus, exploring the vast unknown of the rare disease world could have very real life-changing benefits for countless individuals, and can provide a respectable stream of income for pharmaceutical companies willing to take the chance on rare disease treatments due to lack of competition.

            For Carsten Thiel, who has been vastly interested in rare diseases throughout the entirety of his formidable pharmaceutical career, joining the ranks at EUSA allowed him the professional and personal fulfillment of being able to champion the rare disease market. Embarking on missions to research, discover, develop, and market life-changing treatments for previously untreated rare diseases meant delving into uncharted territory, dedicating funding to innovative studies never before conducted, and taking a chance on being the only company to successfully provide a cure, treatment, or medication for a particular rare disease. Tackling the unknown, for Thiel and EUSA, was the first step toward building a successfully operational company that focused on a lesser-established venture.

            Though Thiel’s example is hyper-specific, this methodology can be applied in most business situations, and in fact, has historically been a feat that has spearheaded innovation, forward motion, and change. Long before the automotive field was ripe with electric and hybrid alternative vehicles, innovators in the field dove into the unknown, dedicating vast resources to develop an alternative product that has never before been seen in the automotive industry. Without a proven precedent to act as a model that would simply receive tweaks, and without a proven market success, these industry disruptors acted on the behalf of a potentially much smaller population of interested consumers. While the developers understood their potential market reach would be smaller, they recognized the importance of creating a brand new product to provide the market with alternative choices. By tackling the unknowns through trial and error, these innovators were able to prove their understanding of a market gap in alternative automobile solutions, and provide a successful product to fill that void.

            For businesses of all sizes, and entrepreneurial ventures, exploring a particular industry in a manner not yet fully exhausted can be key to carving out a niche spot in the industry. Finding a gap in the market can lend inspiration to creating successful products to support the niche need, and to close the gap. Though these proverbial gaps have changed over the years, thanks to technology and globalization, their existence drives innovation, forward motion, and evolution.

Making An Impact

            From an early age, Carsten Thiel was vastly interested in science, and in the exploration of DNA. Building upon this innate interest, he actively pursued the sciences, garnered impressive degrees, and set forth to immerse himself professionally within the world of biopharmacy. However, simply working for a pharmaceutical company did not suffice. Passionate about helping people, Thiel’s continuous drive to truly make an impact led him down the proverbial road less traveled throughout his career. Many times, this yearning for the betterment of mankind led him to disrupt the status quo of the pharmaceutical industry to best suit ethical considerations, and provide the most positive, profound, and effective outcome for clients, even if that outcome was to come at the cost of the pharmaceutical company.

            Early within his career, Carsten was responsible for marketing a pharmaceutical company’s inaugural foray into the dietary industry via the rollout of a new weight-loss supplement. As was common practice at the time, the product’s bespoke marketing was to contain lofty promises, and be widely marketed to a broad audience, though it was internally understood that the product would not be effective for all candidates, and required additional lifestyle interventions to maximize results. In an unprecedented move, Thiel’s innate desire to make a positive impact reigned supreme, as the young professional dictated an innovative, honest, and transparent marketing campaign that targeted only individuals who would benefit from the supplement, instead of a broader audience. Though Thiel understood that this method would decrease initial sales volume, he recognized that targeting only individuals who would garner positive results would render the company as trustworthy, and would make a positive impact in the lives of consumers, which was a top priority.

            Through cumulative and continuous efforts to truly make an impact within his chosen industry, Carsten Thiel acted on various opportunities to better the industry on behalf of consumers, and was strengthened as a leader by each leadership experience. Performing his duties with ethical considerations in mind, and the constant desire to positively impact his industry, his eventual assignment within the lesser-established, but vastly impactful, realm of rare disease treatment was the culmination of an impactful career.

            For many professionals within various sectors, the idea of making a tangible difference in the lives of others, or in propelling the industry forward, is a motivating factor. Rather than simply completing meaningless tasks on a daily basis, many professionals are motivated by the desire to utilize their professional experience, business savvy, and other skills for the betterment of mankind, big or small. This innate driving force may often manifest opportunities for spearheading change, disrupting the status quo, or otherwise propelling a particular company’s ventures into an arena that will profoundly better the lives of others. At times, this desire can drive professionals to try new approaches, dismiss traditional methodology, or take the proverbial road less traveled within an assignment. These experiences, however intimidating at the time, can lend themselves to growing leadership skills, professional fulfillment, and can create tangible change within an industry.

Considering The Potential

            Developed in 2015, EUSA is considered a “young” pharmaceutical company. However, in the few years since the company’s inception, Carsten’s EUSA has already accomplished great feats in the realm of rare disease care. Notably, the company’s innovative products include a treatment for advanced stage Renal Cell Carcinoma, and an immunotherapy product for Neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancerous tumor that predominantly affects children. Without a previous available treatment for children, this breakthrough option has swiftly opened the doors to disease progression, continued research, and the potential for additional products that can be supplemented to produce the most effective results. Within the short span of five years, EUSA has managed to become financially stable, garnered profit, and has avidly invested in infrastructure to support ongoing growth, while focusing only on the less-established realm of rare disease. Additionally, through the company’s initially successful product launches and treatments, they have increased the potential to build upon this momentum, to utilize the initially successful research findings to create additional and supplementary products, and to tap into the previously unearthed potential for effectively treating rare diseases.

            Without ever initially exploring treatments for these rare diseases, the potential for creating various symptom relieving treatments, disease progression products, and even potential vaccines would not exist. By opening the doors, and finding positive results, the company was able to widen the potential for what could be possible within the previously somewhat-abandoned super niche field.

            Within all professional fields, pre-existing limitations exist, determining the course of action for various industries. Within these limitations, companies decide what is worth pursuing, what potential exists, and what options are viable to explore. However, by broadening exploration, and delving into lesser-established ventures, companies can see new potential in areas previously thought to not be worth exploring. Finding this untapped potential, and exploring the possibility of growth, can be instrumental in any company’s success, and can help to successfully propel entire fields forward. The value in exploration of lesser-established business ventures, then, relies on seeing a potential, and seizing the opportunity.

Follow Carsten Thiel on his personal website (carstenthiel.com) and ThriveGlobal.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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