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way the product had to be represented to medical professionals. Our core proprietary technology was electrochemically based sensors, and we felt that it was essential that we develop our own understanding of the best way to build manufacturing processes with this technology and that we maintain all of this knowledge as proprietary within the company. We raised almost $50 million for the manufacturing and launch of the product. “That may sound like a lot, but we knew that established competitors in the diabetes market spent that amount on their marketing and sales force alone. To succeed, we had to do things differently.

TheraSense approached its outsourcing much like an army planning an assault. A small team planned all of the critical details, but nothing was finalized until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted approval. Then, within the remarkably short period of 90 days, the company was in full swing. Mark Lortz, TheraSense’s CEO, and Kulp both note that an important aspect of TheraSense’s outsourcing strategy was that the company had knowledgeable in-house experts who could oversee the work of the outsourcing partners. “It was essential that we have people who could set goals, and know how the process should be performing,” says Kulp.

TheraSense’s launch was a success. The company created an entirely new device category within the diabetes market and established a substantial market share (against large and long-established competitors whom many expected to crush this upstart). Abbott Labs, which wanted to develop a stronger footing in this growing category, subsequently bought TheraSense.

Here are some of the benefits TheraSense achieved through its focus on core competence and outsourcing that are also applicable to go-it-alone businesses:

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GO IT ALONE! Copyright 2004 by Bruce Judson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.