Claire Weston, Founder & CEO at Reveal Biosciences
In advance of our June 24th Reinventing California Biotech event
, we’re profiling our panelists here on the blog so that we can forego the stuffy PowerPoint presentations/introductions and spend more time discussing the issues. See our entry below on Claire Weston
and track all panelists profiles using the #SDBNJune tag
(also the hashtag for the event).
Tell us about yourself:
Scientist, entrepreneur, mom – not necessarily in that order.
What gets you up in the morning?
I love my job! I am lucky to work with some very smart interesting people and I enjoy the rich diversity of science and business opportunities we are exposed to all the time. Every day is different and it’s a very innovative environment that can be challenging and difficult but extremely rewarding and fun.
What’s your current job and how did you get involved with it?
I am the Founder and CEO of Reveal Biosciences. We’re developing tissue-based diagnostics and assays using proprietary advanced technologies for our biotech and pharma clients. Starting a business had always been in the back of my mind and I saw a real opportunity in the market for the technology we’re developing today. With a combination of good timing and luck I was able to take the leap.
How and why did you choose your current location?
San Diego is the perfect environment to start a biotech company. There is so much innovation and potential collaboration right here, and a huge diversity of potential clients from biotech and pharma. There are also many networking opportunities and business resources available that mean that it is easy to find advice and support when you need it.
Describe your company’s funding and business model:
We’re a privately held company and with no outside investment. Our day-to-day operations and technology development are funded by revenue generated by our service business. Our services complement our broader vision and give us the freedom and flexibility to explore new ideas as they arise. We currently work with a wide range of over 50 biotech and pharma clients on a variety of studies ranging from routine histology to advanced assay and novel diagnostic development.
What’s been the most important quality for achieving success in your case?
Developing good relationships and a good reputation for quality has been key to our success. Most of our clients continue to return with repeat business and recommend us to colleagues, and this has really fuelled the growth of our business.
What’s working well with your current life science business?
I think automation is a key part of the success of this business as it brings a host of benefits from scalability, consistency, reproducibility and flexible capacity. We prioritize automation in the lab and have developed complimentary software that enhances our workflow. Most of our projects result in a validated computer controlled lab protocol and quantification algorithm from our ImageDx software. Over the long term, this offers a great deal of efficiency as the projects scale.
What’s been the hardest part about your current job?
It’s always difficult to find the right balance between executing on current projects, expanding the business and pushing the technology development. Our services are a priority to generate revenue the company needs to survive and grow, but the long term “big win” is in the technology we are developing. It is easy to allow the services side to consume all our time but it’s important for us to focus on developing new technology too. Finding a balance between the two can be challenging.
What’s been the proudest moment in your career?
I have been lucky throughout my career but I am actually very proud of where we are now as a company. We literally started Reveal in a garage at the side of another biotech. In the space of two years we’ve come a long way and now have a really well equipped lab, a growing client base and very talented team. What we’re doing is not always easy so it feels good to see how we’ve grown.
How do you see biotech business models evolving over the next 10 years?
As an industry we have to shift our expectations from finding the next blockbuster drug to building efficient mechanisms to develop therapies and diagnostics for the emerging world of precision medicine. Outsourcing is becoming an attractive option and specialized CRO’s and technology providers will be increasingly well positioned to generate cost effective decision making data. Just like many other industries, biotech is benefitting from the dramatic gains in efficiencies derived from our new hyper connected world making matching a specialist technology company with niche research groups very easy. I think business models will evolve to take advantage of these resources and partnerships on a global scale.