“Richard Martin was one of the first people in our company to see an opening in a crowded marketplace for an automated instrument that could easily and rapidly analyze DNA and RNA fragments with a high level of data accuracy. I sent Richard and our Chief Operating Officer on a 10-month mission to initially exploit and fully understand this opportunity,” says Dr. Steven J. Lasky, PhD., AATI’s president and CEO.
In 2009-2010, Martin cold-called and arranged sales visits to 120+ laboratories throughout the United States involved in DNA or RNA research. This was AATI's first foray into the nucleic acids marketplace via fluorescent detection technology. The company’s previous capillary electrophoresis instruments were ultraviolet-based and sold into applications for pKa/chiral/log P assessment and oligonucleotide purity analysis.
The mission had three goals:
Qualify sales leads for the company’s prototype 96-sample instrument, priced at $60,000.
Understand and characterize the various segments of the nucleic acids analysis marketplace: quality control checks for next-gen sequencing; RNA; TILLiNG; and Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs) for biomarker analysis, genetic mapping and genotyping.
Identify key features and capabilities that could then be integrated into an upgraded version of the prototype model.
“The initial sales we made with the first-generation version of our technology gave us a foothold into the nucleic acids marketplace,” says Dr. Lasky. “More importantly, Richard and our COO determined there was a significant market for an automated instrument that could analyze 12 samples simultaneously. At the time, the previous version of our instrument analyzed 96 samples.”
“With this insight, our engineers and scientists developed a brilliant modular concept that gives customers maximum flexibility. They can start out with a 12-sample instrument. And if their sample volumes grow, they can easily upgrade to a 48-sample or 96-sample instrument. It’s like buying a car with a 4-cylinder engine. If customer needs grow to the point where they need more power, they can just keep the same car and upgrade to a 6-cylinder or 8-cylinder engine,” says Dr. Lasky.
AATI sold approximately 50 of the first-generation prototype units.
In January 2012, the company introduced a new instrument that was less expensive and had more capabilities – the Fragment Analyzer Automated CE System.
According to Dr. Lasky, “Richard was involved with all aspects of Fragment Analyzer marketing.”
Identifying market segments and appropriate tactics for selling into them.
Creating print and digital marketing campaigns with advertising agencies.
Public relations efforts that placed articles about AATI in Nature magazine and leading publications such as Genetic Engineering News. (GEN)
Writing key website content.
Executing successful marketing e-blasts.
Cold-calling for lead generation into key accounts such as major plant science companies, medical research institutes, universities, biotech firms, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Monitoring the marketplace for new opportunities such as microRNA and CRISPR-Cas 9 analysis.
Leading the team that produced AATI’s 3-minute Fragment Analyzer marketing video (below).
“Richard has plenty of experience to know when and how to do things ‘by the book’. But his aggressiveness and imagination sometimes leads him to a point where he advises ‘throwing the book out the window’ and trying a different approach,” says Dr. Lasky. “He was an integral part of the team that created Fragment Analyzer’s success.”
As of December 2015, more than 700 Fragment Analyzers were installed in laboratories in 46 countries.
From 2009 to 2015, AATI’s product revenues related to capillary electrophoresis instruments and consumable kits grew from $800K annually to $15M+.
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