Jimmy's blog

Next chapter for Jimmy and Transcriptic/Strateos

December 29th, 2019

We started Strateos (formerly Transcriptic) as outsiders to the industry with little experience but enough chutzpah (aka ignorance) to think we could make biology easier to engineer. We charged a whopping $100 for our first run of growth curves to a class of undergraduates at Stanford. I was enamored by the science being executed at our facility and the idea that somewhere remote, college students were designing how to grow bacteria from their laptops in their dorm rooms. We realized that to keep doing cool science we had to prove that we could turn this into an actual business that is larger than $100 checks. And so it started.

Today, we work with the biggest pharma and synthetic biology companies in the world. We went from a couple of us manually pipetting to today where we have dozens of robot arms managing hundreds of instruments. We are deployed across three different sites across the US and just surpassed a million unit operations in our Menlo Park facility alone. We have also recently expanded into automated chemistry to rapidly synthesize new compounds that we can use to probe the molecular biology we have been running. It’s safe to say that the checks are a little bigger now and the question is not if there is a business but how to keep growing and keep up with the demand. As I mentioned, the company started off as audacious (and ignorant) outsiders but we have complemented the team with insiders and decades of experience by the likes of Mark Fischer-Colbrie (former CEO of Labcyte) and Dan Sipes (former Director of Automation at GNF). These were the very companies I studied when we were first starting out! I could not have imagined that those leaders would eventually end up joining our little company.

Like any startup, we’ve had our share of ups and downs along the journey. There was a short period of time where we were living through season 3, episode 5 of Silicon Valley: The Empty Chair by not having a CEO. I kid you not. Fortunately, it turns out that keeping the company going without a CEO actually wasn’t all that bad. Mergers are hard but the dust has settled now and we’ve survived that one too and come out stronger. It’s a funny thing: when the company is facing tough challenges, I can’t leave because I want to fix the situation we’re in and be the steady rock for the team. When the company is on a high, it’s so much fun that there’s no reason for me to leave. I’ve been riding those ups and downs for over six years now! Today, I believe the company is in the good hands of experienced leaders and is finally able to stand on its own legs with steady business incoming. I believe it is the right time for me to pass the torch.

Friends come and go. A day ends, a new day begins. What’s important is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend, a meaningful day. For me, it is time to re-pot. To current and former Transcriptic/Stateos employees: what I will look back on is the hours spent alongside all of you, overcoming challenges and forging deep relationships along the way. If there’s a particularly meaningful memory you have of us, from the heroic to just something that made you laugh, send me a note! I’d love to hear from you. To potentially new Strateos employees: now is a super exciting time to join. We are about to turn on our largest data generating machine yet! More news on that to come in the new year. Stay tuned.


(This is a cross-post from LinkedIn. Added here for consistency and completeness.)

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