This Startup Helps Life Science Teams Increase Sales Productivity

Tufts-born Acenna is the first software platform for selling to scientists

The Life Science industry has a data problem. The industry, which include Biotechnology, Medical Devices, Diagnostics, Pharma, and Laboratory Supply, is overwhelmed by the volume of data produced by their customers. For example, for the 50,000 companies selling lab equipment and supplies, a $30B market in the US alone, the inability to analyze the millions of publications, grants, press releases, and clinical trials produced by their customers (scientists) inhibits both productivity and customer experience.

Born out of Tufts University, RDV-backed Acenna is using machine learning to help companies that sell lab equipment and supplies provide a better customer experience and simultaneously increase revenue. By combining scientific research data with internal company data, Acenna builds robust customer profiles that increase engagement from prospects and align sales and marketing around the best potential customers.

Acenna’s founders, Ethan Kopit, Ian Leaman, and Jon Arbaugh met during their freshman year at Tufts University. Ethan, a political science major, brings business acumen to the team having worked in business and marketing at Sqrrl, a cybersecurity company. Jon, a computer science major, brings a software engineering background to the team having spent time at the Johns Hopkins Physics Lab and mobile advertising company, Jana. Ian, also a computer science major, spent time at Microsoft on their program management and software engineering team. It was during his time as a sales intern at Blackrock Microsystems, a company in the neuroscience space, when Ian began thinking about the concept for Acenna. All of the founders knew they wanted to do something entrepreneurial at Tufts, and joined forces to work on the company during their senior year.

The team has worked closely with faculty at Tufts including Mark Ranalli, Dean of the Tufts Gordon Institute. The three are grateful that Mark has pushed them to develop a more thoughtful business structure, while advising them on how to create investor decks, pro-forma financials, and conduct product research in the space. Additionally, Gavin Finn, Professor of Marketing at Tufts and CEO of Kaon Interactive, has been especially supportive in helping the team shape their marketing and sales goals. Finally, Andy Bertera, Executive Director of Marketing at New England Biolabs, has provided a wealth of industry insight based on his work at GE and Amersham Biosciences Corporation.

The team has taken a number of courses at the The Tufts Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies department where they gained a deeper understanding of Marketing, Sales, Finance, and Leadership. They worked out of the Tufts Venture Lab, a small incubator-like space on the Tufts campus, for almost two years, before they took 1st place in the Tufts 100K competition. More recently, became a Mass Challenge finalist (wish them luck!).

We’re excited to work closely with the Acenna team as they pursue the company full time here in Boston. Stay tuned for updates @acennadata!


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