As research costs continue to grow in the coming years, the need to provide effective solutions that can keep pace with technology, while minimizing expenses has never been greater. Strong R&D and cost optimization at instrument manufacturing companies has brought about significant improvements.
Still, finding the sweet spot between high precision and reasonable costs for lab equipment is the desired outcome for laboratories across the country. We spoke to Aadhar Jain, CEO at Microlit USA on how they were able to solve this problem.
Meet Aadhar Jain, CEO at Microlit USA, a High Precision Liquid Handling Instrument Company
LA Startups (LAS): What is Microlit?
Aadhar Jain (AJ): Unlike most other lab equipment suppliers in the USA, Microlit is a manufacturer with world-class manufacturing facilities and calibration laboratories in India. This enables them to provide great prices for high-quality products, coupled with strong technical support due to in-depth product knowledge.
Customers are primarily educational institutions such as universities, science colleges, and high schools, In addition to industrial customers such as Steep Hill (Cannabis Testing) and KrushWerks (Wine manufacturing). Microlit has enabled its customers to carry out lab experimentation without breaking a budget while maintaining high quality and precision. Keeping quality at the forefront has also opened a channel into government institutions and pharmaceutical laboratories including renowned institutions such as NASA, Pfizer, and Amgen.
LAS: What Problem is Microlit Trying To Solve
(AJ): The lab instrument marketplace is broken in the western market due to the multiple layers of intermediaries between the manufacturers and the end-users (labs). Importers, master distributors, and resellers in the US add 100-150% markup with each distribution layer. Labs have to pay the price of this ineffective structure, being left with no option but to buy expensive instruments. Well-funded and highly profitable institutions including pharma companies, top universities, and government organizations are able to afford them. However, this distribution model inhibits the progress of science and research at high schools, colleges, other under-funded universities, and biotechnology startups. Moreover, the resellers and distributors are not able to provide appropriate technical support to the customers since a lot of important technical information is lost as it is transferred and translated from layer to layer.
LAS: How Have Microlit Solved This
AJ: Microlit is solving this “accessibility” problem by distributing self-manufactured products (manufactured in India) to the western markets via a primarily digital and direct-to-consumer channel. With the power of online distribution channels, they are able to disintermediate multiple layers of distribution and offer products at reasonable prices to customers. The “value” pricing does not mean that customers are getting lower quality products. Their products have won several design awards globally and have been granted patents both in India and US for their state-of-the-art technologies. Stringent ISO 17025 and ISO 13485 governed quality checks, testing, and calibration procedures are utilized before being shipped out to our customers. The online distribution model also enables Microlit to utilize their technical know-how to provide appropriate technical support and service directly to their customers.
LAS: How Have Microlit Achieved This
AJ: By reducing the cost of science in the western market through offering cost-effective lab instruments and tools, Microlit is helping foster research at the student level as well as commercial space. Over the past couple of years, the company has been impactful on labs’ purchasing decisions by helping them realize that high-quality lab instruments are available at a fraction of the current market price, resulting in winning market share and customer trust. However, there is a long way to go in changing the mindset of lab managers and purchasing departments at scale and disrupt the dominance of established suppliers.
LAS: Why Join UCLA Anderson Venture Accelerator
AJ: While working in the family business in India, Aadhar realized how broken the lab instruments marketplace was in the US and decided to do something about it. As part of his MBA journey at UCLA, the Anderson Venture Accelerator became the answer. He was accepted to the Spring 2018 cohort and quickly met his co-founder Nikita Sewak and off they went. The Accelerator and its amazing network of advisors provided incredible mentorship which enabled them to launch the business within 6 months of inclusion in the cohort. With a well-thought-out go-to-market strategy, they were able to gain early traction, especially with educational and biotech startup customers. By the end of the program, they leveraged the Anderson investor network to raise a seed round to fund the next phase of growth of the business. It is safe to say that Microlit USA would not have existed without the early and continued support from the program.
LAS: What’s Next?
AJ: Microlit is launching a new micropipette called NERO with an advanced (patent applied) calibration mechanism UniCalTM which will allow our users to re-calibrate their pipette instrument in a single operation. Traditional micropipettes use a hit-and-trial calibration method which is complex, takes time, and usually requires the pipette to be sent out to 3rd party facilities for recalibration. The simplicity of the UniCAl mechanism means that it can be performed in-house by the scientist at the lab premises itself. This will significantly save time and resources in terms of recalibration cost and the unavailability of the instrument during the recalibration process. This new product launch will be another way labs can reduce their costs and improve their efficiency.