Focus on the customer. We are nothing without our customers. We want our customers to be successful. We built a mock lab at our company headquarters. Customers can visit it any time to see how Green Button Go and other innovative technologies can help them in a real-world lab setting, not just in theory. In the Biosero Acceleration Lab, customers experience highly-innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, facial recognition and automation and scheduling software in a real lab environment.
As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SAAS”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tom Gilman.
Tom Gilman founded Biosero in 2003. From the onset, Biosero’s goal is to deliver and support completely integrated solutions that automate laboratory workflows for the life science market.
As Chief Executive Officer and President, Tom maintains the alignment of the team to advance software solutions addressing future requirements in automation that also include the industrial market. Biosero’s industry-leading automation software, Green Button Go™, is a device-agnostic software platform that integrates equipment into a cohesive lab ecosystem that automates workflows, increases throughput and gathers data.
During his 30-year career in the laboratory automation sector, Tom has held several senior-level sales, marketing and application support roles at IGEN, HCG and Apricot Designs. Before founding Biosero, he served as an award-winning global account manager at Beckman Instruments. In this position, Tom recognized the benefits of integrated automation solutions early on, making the original introduction of the Sagian team to Beckman.
Tom earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from California State University, Fullerton.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Before starting Biosero, I had 15 years of experience in the biotechnology industry. I reached a point in my life where it was time for me to evaluate what I wanted to do and how I wanted to make a difference. I thought about how I wanted people to remember me because people remember you by how you make them feel.
I interviewed leaders in the biotech, automation and robotics industries to learn about what was working for them. I also found what didn’t work for them and how they discovered success. I thought constantly about how a company could make a difference. That’s how I started Biosero.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
I saw a need for device-agnostic software in the biotech and pharmaceutical lab space. At the time, Biosero was reselling other companies’ hardware in the U.S. My service engineers constantly fielded complaints from unhappy customers about things that were outside of their control and I felt terrible about that. So, we looked at areas of the market that weren’t being met and completely refocused our company on developing our own software.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I have experienced a lot of things harder than businesses and faced trials much more difficult than business. People say I have a lot of guts to start a company like this, but there are no guts involved. For me, it’s always been the opposite — how could I let someone else control my destiny?
My drive to continue lies where it always has been — helping labs develop drugs that can help cure cancer.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Business is great because failure is never an option. I always know that no matter what, I will keep pushing myself and keep going. I never thought I would fail with this company. Failure never crosses my mind — I just don’t think about it.
My mindset is forward-looking: when I accomplish task 1, then what? And after I achieve the next thing, what’s next?
Success is like a ladder, in which you keep moving from one rung to the next. It doesn’t make sense to look down to see where you’ve been; just keep looking up and keep going.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
When I first started Biosero, my personal life was in ruins. It was a time where grit and grind were all I had. There was nothing funny about that time in my life. I just smiled and kept going.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
In clinical labs, there’s nothing more important than the work scientists and technicians do to uncover new findings. Accelerating that work can have a significant impact on drug discovery and other important research. This is the premise of Biosero’s work.
We created Green Button Go software that automates lab equipment to expedite laboratory workflows and free up precious time. The breakthrough software integrates life science equipment to create a cohesive lab ecosystem that automates testing, discovery, data gathering and error-handling workflows.
Green Button Go software is the only device-agnostic software that can work with any manufacturer’s laboratory equipment. It helps companies create a futureproof lab so they can focus on what’s important — finding a cure.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
My first tip is to surround yourself with the best people who are hungry for success. Secure those people and pay them what they deserve. Give people a chance to make every day a better day and to make a difference.
In a profit-driven world, my company exists to give people a better life. It’s mission-critical for us to integrate ourselves with the great leaders of fantastic companies that want to make a change. We do this work so we can be a part of something big. If we achieve our goals, there will be cures and we will enable those drug research companies to make better decisions, faster.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My wife — she has every quality of a great leader. There is no “quit” in her. She finds a way to get anything done with the highest level of integrity.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app or software currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you’ve taken to build such a large community?
We have more than 500 customers. The steps we’ve taken are:
1) Focus on the customer and their needs so you can ensure their experience is the best
2) Put the team in place that can make #1 happen
3) Develop products that other people don’t have. Differentiate yourself and you will be a changemaker.
What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?
Biosero’s flagship product Green Button Go is available as a software license. Analytics software packages will be offered as a subscription model.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful app or a SAAS? Please share a story or an example for each.
1) Understand your company’s strength in your core marketplace; keep pushing it while you strategize, develop more products and add people
It’s not about hiring bright people — because even bright people fail. It’s about having a great team that works together. The team believes in what you built, your vision, and that they too are working toward the same mission.
2) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Take risks at full speed and ensure they are risks that the company could recover from
Risk-taking is a part of life, and you have to do it. If you don’t take risks, you will never reach your potential.
3) Focus on the customer
We are nothing without our customers. We want our customers to be successful. We built a mock lab at our company headquarters. Customers can visit it any time to see how Green Button Go and other innovative technologies can help them in a real-world lab setting, not just in theory. In the Biosero Acceleration Lab, customers experience highly-innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, facial recognition and automation and scheduling software in a real lab environment.
4) You never have enough ideas. Use outside sources to help guide your path. Create a Board that will guide you into the future
A financial-based board is not the best asset for the company. People who genuinely believe in the company will be the best assets. We select people for our Strategic Advisory Board who are focused on what works best for our customers and how we help our customers get results.
5) Your team is your strongest asset: mentor staff and bring in personal coaches for key employees. Create an internal culture that holds members accountable to be their best
Here are some of the things I’ve done to ensure Biosero’s culture drives team members to be their best:
1. I initiated pay raises to meet or exceed industry standards and have invested more than a quarter-million dollars in compensation increases. I believe in training and have initiated comprehensive employee and manager training programs valued at more than $300,000.
2. I expanded the company’s Personal Time Off (PTO) policy by adding additional holidays that align with school holidays. This change resulted in an extra week off each year for every employee. Now families can spend more time together and it makes work-life-balance better for working parents.
3. In 2018, I started the “WHY Project.” As part of the WHY Project, each year Biosero employees nominate and vote for a philanthropic cause to receive a contribution from the company. This year team members chose to contribute $5,000 to the Alzheimer’s Association.
The “WHY Project” demonstrates the company’s commitment to creating a culture of purpose and social responsibilities. The program started with a discussion about “WHY.” Why does Biosero do the work it does? Why do employees choose to work at Biosero?
We asked Biosero team members to share their “WHY” statements with each other. It became clear that their work at Biosero has more profound meaning to them personally than just earning a paycheck.
There was a commonality. Employees are proud to be part of a company that accelerates research that delivers cures. We take pride in knowing that our customers have launched pharmaceuticals that cure Hepatitis C, reduce pain without addictive side effects, or save the lives of cancer patients. The team at Biosero knows their efforts impact the speed of drug discovery and make a difference.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’m doing it.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Twitter (company page): https://twitter.com/Biosero
LinkedIn (personal page): https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-gilman-a5b519/
LinkedIn (company page): https://www.linkedin.com/company/biosero-inc/
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!