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Benchling – A Data Management Software For Life Sciences Researchers


Short Description –

Researchers all over the world are working very hard to solve some of the world’s biggest problems like renewable energy, diseases, clean water etc., but they are equipped with archaic and very old software. Benchling aspires to fix this problem and thus increase the rate of scientific output with a web-based platform that allows researchers to design and run their experiments, analyze the data, and share results.

Overview –

Collaboration and working in a team is a common requirement for any professional, whatever the field of work a person might be in. Software developers have been enjoying for quite some time the ability to work together, share and collaborate without a need to share the code with other team members every time they make any changes. It was this ease of sharing and collaboration that paved the way for the open source software revolution.

When it comes to life science and biotechnology researches, as far as software for work sharing and collaboration goes, it seems to be stuck in the Stone Age. Benchling is an online cloud based software that has set out to change this very fact by providing the bright minds with the same level of online sharing and collaboration as software developers.

A Y-Combinatorstartup, Benchling is successfully bring about a change in the way researchers collaborate with each other online. It enables its users to edit, analyze, share, collaborate and design experiments and sequences, all through an online web based application.

Researchers have been given the feature to create libraries of their sequences and also allow access to other team members and colleagues who the can make modifications or annotations to the same. It brings the same level of collaboration that widely used tools such as Github bring to software development. A feature most researchers will love is that any modifications are noted down in Benchling’s version history.

With genetics, biotechnology and genomics research picking up pace in the recent years andwith  research becoming a big phenomenon at the most global universities and corporations, Benchling is all set in the right direction by facilitating online collaboration for researchers.

Benchling Features –

Benchling offers a lot of features to take away the mundane and cumbersome parts of an experiment and research. Enlisted below are some of its features:

  • Access Benchling from any computer, anywhere. Never worry about backing up your data again.
  • Easily tag your sequence desired and instantly search across all of your data.
  • Share your libraries with your co-workers in just one click.
  • Benchling generates interactive, zoomable sequence of the maps for your work. When you are ready to publish, you could download a high quality image with one click.
  • Benchling identifies compatible restriction sites for the fragments, picks the buffers, and then calculates the insert aliquots. Use virtual gels to verify correctness and debug your experiments.
  • Tools made for easy sequence manipulation, NCBI BLAST search, translation and for annotating regions on a gene.
  • It supports multiple formats used like FASTA, GenBank, JBEI, vectorNTI, SBOL and even the zip files that contain multiple sequences.
  • Researchers who are regularly carrying out PCR, are especially taken care of here with the sequence cloning tools such as the restriction panel that helps identifying restriction sites and then finds compatible enzymes. It also helps in selecting buffers and to calculate vector/insert aliquots.
  • Researchers can also search and design primers with just one click and you can save them in their libraries.
  • Benchling replaces many commonly used sequencing tools and in the near future, they plan to sell custom and commercial primers through their website, further streamlining cloning.
  • Helps align multiple sequences or traces, auto-tagging your sequences, check your primer library for matches, verify oligo structure, and more.
  • Easily reverts back to you if you make a mistake. Benchling meticulously tracks all changes for you.
  • Live support system (via chat) built into the software.

Founding Team –

Sajith Wickramasekara –

Founder and CEO. Studied Computer Science from MIT and did research in personalized cancer therapeutics. Can often be found at Samovar on weekends. He has previously worked with the Duke University Medical centre, Liquidia Technologies and General Catalyst Partners.

Ashu Singhal –

Founder. Previously worked with Twitter Ads and founded Studied Computer Science and Math at MIT and did research on optogenetics and functional genomics. Loves distance running and IPAs. His Previous venture was acquired by twitter.

Competition –

As far as the current market situation goes, Benchling is rivaled with Transcriptic, which  aims to be the Amazon for the research community. They recently raised  $4.1 M in series A funding.These two have some broad differences- While Transcriptic has plans to focus more   on robotics  enabled remote lab, Benchling relies more on software and web application.

Funding till Now –

Seed Funding – being a Y-Combinator incubated, it is no surprise that Benchling also secured their first seed round of $900k from their incubator in February 2014. Benchling was also able to secure an undisclosed amount of funding in August 2014 from Rock Health and Kevin Mahaffey.

Series A funding – In April 2015,Benchling went for another round of investment in which 3 investor participated. The company was able to secure capital amounting to $5 million. The series A round was led by Andreessen Horowitz while Kevin Mahaffey and Thrive capital also participated.

Future Plans –

Although the company has started with building a web based application for researchers and scientists to be able collaborate better on their projects and experiments, the long term goal is to open their own application store for everything related to life sciences.According to the founder and CEO SajithWickramasekara, they imagine a lab where all hardware are integrated to its main platform to help scientists conduct experiments, there is no need to manually write down stuffs thus, minimizing chances of errors!

Bottomline –

The response that Benchling has received from their target audience of life science researchers has been very positive to say the least. In a space devoid of many options, Benchling has been able to deliver a good product which has been accepted with open arms. If they can keep continuing the good work, there is no doubt about their success.

All the best to the Benchling team for the future.

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