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Meet Kevin Lustig of Scientist.com

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin Lustig.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I decided to be a research scientist when I was about 10 years old. I took every science class in high school and graduated in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in cell & molecular biology from Cornell. I then spent 20 years working in the research laboratory, first as a graduate student at USCF and then as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, a research director at Tularik Inc., and, finally, as head of research at Kalypsys Inc., a biotech company I co-founded in 2001. Working at the lab bench in academia and industry gave me the perfect opportunity to witness firsthand how time-consuming, costly and inefficient basic research can be.

In 2005, I realized that there was a way to take advantage of structural changes in the pharmaceutical industry to create a new approach to medical research, one that would be much faster and cheaper and that would reduce existing barriers to innovation. I co-founded the Scientist.com marketplace in 2007 as a way to empower and connect scientists worldwide, and create a dramatically more efficient medical research process.

For the past 12 years, Scientist.com has changed its business model three times and had two near-death experiences, but today it is the world’s largest and fastest growing marketplace for scientific services. In 2017 the company was #155 on the INC5000, Inc. magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest growing US companies. The company expects to be listed in the top 20 on the 2018 INC5000 list. The company was also recently recognized by Inc. magazine as one of the US Best Places to Work 2018.

Has it been a smooth road?
I am fond of saying that Scientist.com is an overnight success 12 years in the making. The road to our success, however, has been anything but smooth. We launched our first e-commerce marketplace on Sept 15, 2008, the same day Lehman Brothers failed and the “Great Recession” began. Needless to say, very few noticed our marketplace launch amid the global financial upheaval.

In 2009 we partnered with a large pharmaceutical company and worked at risk with them for 9 months to build an enterprise version of our marketplace. A few days before Christmas, however, they abruptly canceled the project, essentially leaving us at the altar. This caused an investor to back out at the last minute, leaving us with no money to fund payroll. We just managed to obtain a loan to make payroll and keep the company going until we finally signed some revenue-generating partnerships about 9 months later.

In the years since, we’ve made multiple business model “pivots”, from e-commerce to enterprise software, to SaaS and then back again in 2014 to the e-commerce model we use today.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Scientist.com story. Tell us more about the business.
I founded Scientist.com twelve years ago when I realized that a perfect storm of challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry had created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fundamentally transform medical research. My co-founders and I realized that an online research marketplace used strategically could greatly reduce barriers to scientific innovation and dramatically improve the efficiency of drug research and development.

As the pharmaceutical industry’s oldest and largest online marketplace for outsourced research, Scientist.com has played an important role in creating the research outsourcing market and realizing this vision. For the past twelve years, the San Diego-based company has made it easy for pharmaceutical and biotech scientists to connect with technical experts at over 2,500 pre-qualified contract research organizations (CROs) and then rapidly purchase custom services under a flexible legal framework that is unique in the industry.

Scientist.com was founded in 2007, launched a public e-commerce marketplace in 2008 and launched its first enterprise marketplaces with Pfizer and AstraZeneca in 2011 and 2012. Since then, Scientist.com has created branded enterprise marketplaces for 15 of the top 25 large pharmaceutical companies (including all top 5 pharma) and the National Institutes Health (NIH). In the last six months alone, the company’s award-winning marketplace was also exclusively adopted by 15 public and private large-cap biotechnology companies and by VWR, an industry leader in the consumables and reagents space. The Scientist.com marketplace currently has over 70% market share in the fast-growing research outsourcing industry.

Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years?  Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
Over the next 10 years, the pharmaceutical industry will undergo a dramatic transformation in how it does drug research. The percentage of research carried out by pharma researchers will decline dramatically as the industry recognizes that it needs to “outsource everything but the genius”. The drug research done today on pharma campuses will be replaced by research done by a diverse ecosystem of thousands of small and virtual drug companies that are nimble and cost-efficient.

Scientist.com has positioned itself to play an essential role in enabling this profound industry transition.

Pricing:

  • User Fee = $0 (Scientist.com does not charge research users or pharma clients)
  • Supplier Fee = 5%

Contact Info:

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