Maze Engineers Update: How We Launched A New Technology Transfer Program

Shuhan He
Founder, MazeEngineers
$100K
revenue/mo
1
Founders
15
Employees
MazeEngineers
from Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
started March 2013
$100,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
15
Employees
8.51M
alexa rank
market size
$30B
avg revenue (monthly)
$100K
starting costs
$11.7K
gross margin
90%
time to build
210 months
growth channels
Direct sales
best tools
Slack, Facebook Ads, MailChimp
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
39 Pros & Cons
tips
3 Tips
Discover what tools Shuhan reccommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Shuhan reccommends to grow your business!
Start A Maze Engineering Business

Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Hi my name is Louise and I am the Director of Science and Development for Conduct Science, you previously spoke to our founder Dr. Shuhan He about Maze Engineers. We have since developed Conduct Science as our science marketplace for any scientific research equipment whereas Maze Engineers is specifically our customizable research maze product line. My background is in academic science but now I have taken more of an entrepreneur role.

transferring-from-an-academic-career-to-start-up

My career journey certainly took a surprising turn as I expected I would continue working in a lab post-PhD but I love what I do now and I encourage others to consider careers “outside the box” of their expectations too. There has been a movement for some time now in the medicine and science sectors where the traditional careers within academics, healthcare, and industry are being re-explored. The biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical research industries are diversifying with smaller companies and start-ups taking on projects that traditionally would have been performed by larger companies and establishments. To this end, I think there need to be more brave individuals who have the scientific and medical knowledge of the traditional sectors in the start-up space.

transferring-from-an-academic-career-to-start-up

transferring-from-an-academic-career-to-start-up
Life before Conduct Science

transferring-from-an-academic-career-to-start-up
Remote life with Conduct Science

Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?

Since you last spoke to Dr He, Conduct Science has exponentially grown to take on more staff, including myself. We want to make Conduct Science the “Etsy” of science through the creation and innovation of new scientific protocols. An example of this is our new technology transfer program, InventionUp. This service allows the technology transfer of an academic invention to the commercial market with revenue transfer but without the hassle of the patent process, venture capital, manufacturing, and marketing by the inventor. We manage the process on the behalf of the inventor, protect the product through trade secrets and IP and manufacture and market the invention. We consider this service a revolutionary way for inventors to quickly and efficiently take their invention to market in a cost-effective way.

Now is the time for startups to think about other innovative ways they can take advantage of the rapid growth that is occurring. The world of how we work is changing, and we need to change and adapt to it.

I also manage our social media presence on Instagram and Facebook. We wanted our social media platform to be more of a place to engage in the entertaining side of science, so much of our content is fun or exciting science news or silly science-themed memes. More people are likely to interact and engage with something fun than serious. Keeping with the theme of engaging and entertaining science, our podcast covers a range of science-related topics, news, and also general silliness.

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What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

I believe the next 20 years will be defined not by Silicon (Valley, Beach, etc) but by Carbon, as in the ability to generate human carbon biotechnology. Our ability to create an mRNA vaccine to defeat COVID-19 or incredible technologies like CRISPR and CAR-T Therapy is absolutely revolutionizing the world and is analogous to what we were seeing in the early days of Sand Hill Road. Biotechnology will come to dominate the next 100 years and we are here to take advantage. It is an exciting time.

In an era of booming biotechnology and start-ups, we were fortunate to survive and even thrive during the pandemic. What I have seen up close truly is the old age adage, that progress is made in times of war, not peace. Our company is positioned because of the horrors of the pandemic, but we are ready to ensure that with what we have learned, scientific progress will save more lives in the next 10 years than were lost during this pandemic. We will be a part of that progress, and it is our mission to ensure the horror of the last 2 years was not lost on humanity. There is a portion of the success of a startup that is associated with timing, global trend, and even perhaps luck. I think being able to adapt and grow in trying times leads to the strongest organizations.

Transferring from an academic career to the start-up world in the middle of the pandemic meant that I had to be ready for the rapid change cycles, with a quick learning curve that I had to climb. Because Conduct Science is a start-up, my role is diverse with many different projects and responsibilities, probably more so than would be expected at a larger corporation for example. While this means I have to plan and thoroughly plan to ensure I meet deadlines and progress on different tasks, my skill set has broadened to accommodate customer interactions, product procurement, understanding of IP and the legalities of technology transfer, grant writing, and submission, and a lot more! I think this is something for readers considering a career in a start-up versus a larger company, a start-up offers the chance for one to learn a wide range of skills.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

Our 5-year goal is to work into making Conduct Science the Esty for science. The science and biotech industry is booming and the pandemic has only highlighted the need for this industry for now and in the future. As a result, the popularity of start-ups within these industries will only likely rise. It’s an exciting time to be part of this community and we have a lot of friends and partnerships with like-minded companies and institutions like ours. On the topic of collaboration, we work closely with the Harvard Innovation Lab who support us and help us in our mission and our growth, which is our primary aim. I am currently expanding our community of like-minded companies to gain inspiration from and do business with.

We plan to achieve our “Etsy'' InventionUp program is to change the way methodologies are done in science. This InventionUp program is a really innovative way for a scientific methodology to spread. It is critical that when scientists invent a new method or idea, that it can easily move from lab to lab to quickly spread ideas around. Siloed ideas slow down scientific-technological progress, and our legal innovation makes it so that we can quickly replicate results and have less wasted and duplicated work in scientific laboratories.

I’m particularly excited about this program as I believe it to be an efficient way to transfer technology and currently there are so few programs that do this but so many potential inventions to be shared! I also very much enjoy seeing what inventions come through, what they do, and how they benefit scientific research.

To get the word out about our new developments, a major aim we have in the next 5 years is to expand our outbound presence and update previous and potential customers on our new products and services through big data initiatives. We want to know who is working with who, what a scientist needs to be successful, and get it there ahead of time. We want to be able to help scientists collaborate.

With these goals in mind, I hope we can connect back with Starter Stories within the next few years to update you on where we end up. I have a lot of hope for the future, it’s exciting to watch something grow, it’s even better to know you are part of the reason for that growth,

Have you read any good books in the last year?

I’m more of a fiction reader myself but for podcasts, I recommend podcasts such as Startup Stories, This is a success, The Science of Success, and This week in startups (and of course the Conduct Science podcast). I think it is always useful to get inspiration from others within the field who may also be starting to get a different perception, or wisdom from those more established.

I like to keep up-to-date on science news and I like to read New Scientist and other science news sites to achieve this. This is both for my interest and to ensure Conduct Science is up-to-date on new potential services and products.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

I think some advice to give to others in the start-up world is to do what you and your team think and feel is right for your company. I have seen the mistakes of start-ups moving too fast, gaining investment so fast that they cannot keep up, hiring too many or hiring too few, and end up becoming disorganized and inefficient. This is where it becomes dangerous as the repercussions of being a disorganized, and efficient small company are usually felt more than in a larger company. The advice I would give to other start-ups: go with what suits your circumstances, for example, not all companies have to go public straight away or ever, how you want to fund your company might be different from others whether that be via venture capital or bootstrapping or a SPAC. You and your company are unique, therefore its circumstances are unique and yours to choose carefully.

I would also like to add, in a world still now bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic, this is an important time for growth. There is massive stimulus in the economy and growth maybe even faster now that we’re reopening again. In this recovering world and incredibly fast-changing world, work policies like removing work have already quickly implemented what would have taken 30-50 years in the past. Now is the time for startups to think about other innovative ways they can take advantage of the rapid growth that is occurring. The world of how we work is changing, and we need to change and adapt to it.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

At the moment we are not looking for full-time hires but we work with freelancers on Upwork frequently. I think making a profile and putting you and your skills out there is a good place to start.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

-  
Shuhan He   Founder of MazeEngineers
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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