NYU’s Summer LaunchPad is a ten-week accelerator program that gives ten promising NYU entrepreneurs the skills, resources and connections to turn their startups into commercially viable ventures.
Below, Ching Yao Yang, Jasmin Hume and Raúl Catena, cofounders of BenchPals, discuss LaunchPad, the market and their startup, which aims to streamline the daily processing of the large amounts of laboratory data, as well as laboratories’ inventory management, through new mobile software.
Tell us about the decision to apply for NYU LaunchPad.
For us, applying to the NYU Summer LaunchPad program was a no-brainer. This year we made it to the finals of the NYU Technology Venture competition. While it gave us a great introduction to the rigorous process of writing a business plan and pitching our business in the hopes of being funded, we felt that we were missing some background business knowledge.
The LaunchPad program is an intensive 10 week course that guides us through the lean startup methodology (no business plans here!) via guest lectures, mentorship, a ton of customer discovery and weekly team presentations.
As scientists with limited business knowledge, we felt that the LaunchPad program was the best fit for us to get our product out there while learning a great deal in the process.
Tell us about the product that you are launching?
At BenchPals, we are working on a mobile software solution enabling scientists to better manage their data and inventory. The idea is to combine some of the outdated tools scientists use into a streamlined platform that increases efficiency in conducting experiments and reduces overhead associated with running a research lab.
BenchPals also believes that science shouldn’t only live (and die) in the lab —we are making our platform socially connected to allow researchers to quickly share their results and get feedback from peers and superiors.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We are developing this solution for academic research scientists, specifically from bio-related fields.
According to the National Science Foundation, there are currently more than 600,000 graduate students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields. The associated market with this customer segment we estimated to be approximately $200 million.
What is your take on the current scene in New York today?
The startup scene in NYC today is really inspiring. With all of these amazing companies forming, growing and getting recognition coming from NYC, the city is really becoming a vibrant community for startups, especially in the technology sector.
We are happy to be able to interact with all kinds of awesome startups and their cofounders as a part of the NYU Summer LaunchPad and look forward to carving out a niche for scientist entrepreneurs within the community as well.
Where does your company fit in the ecosystem?
As a company founded by scientists (1 PhD, 2 PhD candidates), we have a pretty interesting position in the ecosystem. We are straddling academia and the startup world, so that means taking ideas and methods that people hold dear and trying to revolutionize them to try and help people do their research better.
We are actually the only team in LaunchPad that has cofounders who are still in school full time, making time management essential for us. Science labs, especially in universities, do not usually contain the target customers for startups, so it is definitely an interesting and important challenge for us to bring this type of new technology to these researchers.
I kept many of the elements in the example because 1) the headline was very catchy as is, since to me “On the LaunchPad” sounds like a feature column name and 2) the entire intro is formulaic enough that large structural changes and rephrasings would only muddy the information.