Colabra – a company working to provide scientists a platform to share research and other data with each other – announced Monday that it has raised $1.5 million from an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round. Investors in the round include Village Global, Longtail Health Ventures, Builders VC, BoxOne Ventures, and others.
The San Francisco-based company was established to help bring the scientific method to a digital space by offering scientists a platform where they can look at the work of other scientists on their teams. Its platform enables scientists to comment on experiments, track work being done and integrate DNA sequences, molecular structures and microscopic images. “Scientists are able to build on the work of others, instead of trying to find all of this data,” cofounder and CEO Aoi Senju says.
The idea of Colabra came into fruition after Senju met his fellow cofounder Philip Seifi at a Launch House event last October, which is a residency program where entrepreneurs network. At the event, the two were paired as roommates and after getting to know each other and participating in hackathons together, they realized they worked well together. They enjoyed that partnership so much that by the end of their time at the event, the duo was already entertaining the idea of starting a company.
Before shifting his focus into software and data science, Senju had studied chemical engineering. As he learned more about data science, he found that practices such as “code review and agile project management” were missing from the scientific field. That inspiration is what led to the company being founded in January 2021. “The basis of Colabra was to take many of the best practices that exist in other fields and bring it into scientific research in a familiar format,” Senju says. “There’s a massive problem in science today of redundant work – experiments have already been done or dead ends that other people have run up against.”
Matthew De Silva, syndicate lead and angel investor for Longtail Health Ventures, has seen scientists use various solutions to effectively conduct and analyze experiments at his California-based company Notable Labs – that finds the most effective treatment to specific cancers. “We’ve had folks try traditional paper lab notebooks, general-purpose tools like Evernote, and enterprise-grade lab notebooks like Benchling,” De Silva says. “When I was introduced to Colabra and met Aoi and Philip, their product felt novel — it was the first time I’d seen a clean, powerful, intuitive, tool purpose-built for day-to-day scientific work.”
“As a scientist and entrepreneur, I’ve experienced firsthand the lack of tools designed for scientists when trying to plan, execute, and analyze experiments,” Milad Alucozai, Head of Bio & Deep Tech at BoxOne Ventures. “I see Colabra becoming the go-to collaboration and data integration platform for scientists.”
Currently the company is in closed beta with the intention to publicly release the product in late October. “Within the first week of launching their private beta, Colabra was getting feedback from their scientists, telling the team how much further they’d be in their research if Colabra had existed years ago,” partner at Village Global, Anne Dwane says.
The market for electronic lab notebooks has seen growth as the field becomes digital – leading to an increase in need for faster, more accurate results. The market size last year was reportedly over $550 million, according to Verified Market Research.
With its seed funding in place, the company looks to grow its engineering team. In doing so, the company plans to be better equipped to add more features to the platform as well as better meet the needs of clients. The company will be looking to integrate with companies such as Slack, Trello and Asana to improve its project management software.
“In the future we want to aggregate scientific data, not only to come up with meaningful conclusions from the experiments themselves, but to derive deeper insights that the scientist would have otherwise missed in the past,” Senju says. “And what we see with Colabra is enabling… scientific organizations to leverage and build on the brainpower of every scientist at that organization”
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