Solving a Scientist’s Dilemma | Dealing with Poor Research Equipment & Lab Management
Tom Ruginis stayed with us at Flow House in Silicon Valley back in 2015. Flow House gets a lot of entrepreneurs who come into Silicon Valley throughout the year. I like to write about the ones who are up to something genuine, including those who are creating profitable ways to solve real world problems even if it’s not in the sexiest of industries — it’s businesses like these that deserve more attention. I’d like to introduce you to Tom Ruginis and how he’s adding value to scientists and labs around the United States.
Introducing Tom Ruginis and HappiLabs
Tom is the Founder of HappiLabs, a small business in Chicago still in its early stage but past the startup stage. His company provides consulting services and software to scientists who need help managing their laboratories and their lab equipment. You can think of them as an outsourced purchasing department for biotech companies and scientific research labs.
A problem for scientists with laboratories is finding equipment and supplies. In order to do their research, they need to use products like test tubes, beakers and expensive equipment like clinical centrifuges. The problem is, due to the saturation of suppliers and difficulty of finding the right information, it’s incredibly time consuming to evaluate different brands of these products for quality and for the right price. This takes precious time for scientists, which could instead be spent doing actual research. Let’s take a look at these problems in more detail.
Problem 1: Poor Quality Control in the Marketplace
Lab equipment is manufactured and shipped all over the world — China, Europe, America, you name it — this equipment is used for things like cancer or diabetes research. In most cases there’s no standard organization that evaluates vendors or tests the quality of the equipment used for research.
Major scientific journals have highlighted independent studies that show that low quality plastics are ruining their experiments. This means efforts like cancer research are slowed down because of low quality products infiltrating the market and sidetracking studies.
Poor quality of lab equipment is expensive. Entire experiments have to be reset in order to achieve meaningful results and this is frustrating for scientists who need to produce results on a budget.
Problem 2: No Standard Pricing in Lab Equipment
Barely anyone likes to go to car dealerships and deal with car salesmen. Lab vendors are barely any different. When you reach out to a vendor, you have to deal with a salesman and the prices for lab equipment is scattered — there’s so many research centers getting ripped off. Scientists don’t have a standard place to determine fair prices and it’s a painful shopping experience that takes time. This is time that scientists should instead be using for doing research.
Right now, labs around the United States are hiring HappiLabs’ remote consultants to do their shopping, manage their inventory and manage their finances. Each consultant within the HappiLabs workforce is either a postdoc who has managed scientists, experiments, and budgets; has extensive experience as a purchaser or has experience as a sales rep in the life science industry. HappiLabs has the perfect workforce, the data to find the best quality of lab equipment and the industry experience to negotiate the best prices.
There’s a sea of information about quality and price — Happilabs collects it, organizes it and filters it. They evaluate vendors not only on quality and price of their equipment but also on customer service and sustainability. HappiLabs puts this information into monthly reports for scientists to make quick and accurate decisions about what to buy for their research.
Tom’s vision for the future is to create the gold standard for lab equipment and supplies. His aim is to provide a central place for scientists and anyone doing quality research, to easily look up and find equipment they can trust. Happilabs aims to be the standard organization to have evaluated and tested lab products, validating these products for scientific research so that scientists can more efficiently protect our health and our happiness.
Sometimes building ‘un-sexy’ businesses is where true value is added in society. We need to give these kinds of businesses more credit. In this case, scientists have a lot of tedious work that can be outsourced. With services like HappiLabs, scientists can focus on problems that matter and not have to deal with negotiating lab equipment and researching supplies. Scientists can focus on preventing health and environmental problems among many issues. Tom and the HappiLabs team aim to keep these scientists focused on their research and make the management of laboratories more efficient.
I’ve met up with Tom several times, he’s a former molecular biologist and I can tell he’s very passionate about what he does. It’s great seeing amazing people doing amazing things.
Keep doing well my friend.
Jason Weber is a Software Professional, Founder of Flow House™ and Founding Member of Flow Enterprises LLC. He’s worked for Amazon, HP and Intel Corporation with four issued patents in the digital product space. Writer/editor for The Silicon Valley Post. He’s into practical Zen, the Flow State, High-Tech & the Hustle.