“Their internal users will see that their access time to an instrument goes down. They can get on it sooner, which is counterintuitive, but it is reality.”
What if scientists could plan and run experiments much faster? Meenta’s software platform is making the use of high-end research equipment far more efficient. Co-Founder & CTO Stephan Smith is excited by the massive opportunity his startup is addressing.
- Sal Daher’s Intro
- Stephan Smith’s Bio
- “Half the time they sit idle and half the time if someone owns one of these instruments, there’s still a long wait to get on them. They’re not simple devices, but they are crucial for research.”
- “Used to take 3 months for you to book time on one of these high-end sequencing machines and have all the reagents and everything else lined up and the right people and so forth, and now you’re doing it within 2 weeks, 12 days.”
- Biggest Obstacle: Convincing People That They Don’t Have to Do Things the Old, Slow Way
- The Unique Challenges of a Multi-Sided Marketplace
- “…we let our users make a decision based on whether they care about speed, or quality, or price.”
- How the Co-Founders, Stephan & Gabor, Came Together
- “…we were 10 minutes into him telling me about the problem and I think the top of my head blew off. I was like, this is what I’ve been waiting for. This is a massive market.”
- “We allow them [universities] to make their core labs more efficient by having more samples throw flow through these machines. These machines are able to run actually more efficiently.”
- “Their internal users will see that their access time to an instrument goes down. They can get on it sooner, which is counterintuitive, but it is reality.”
- When it Costs $15,000 per Run, You’re Not Going to Run Your Sequencer Half Full. It Pays to Get Others on the Machine to Share the Cost.
- Sal Daher Talks About Portfolio Company FineTune Learning
- The Burning Question for All Angel Investors: How Am I Going to Make Money on This Company?
- Academic Study on Meenta’s Approach to Two-Sided Markets
- “The bigger problem that I see is how do you provide value for both sides of the marketplace so you don’t have a churn retention issue.”
- How Meenta Keeps Clients from Going Direct and Cutting them Out of the Business
- “…we assumed the $2,000 order size. Our order sizes are dramatically bigger.”
- “Our clear North Star is $1.6 million worth of gross revenue per month by December of 2020. That’s our goal.”
- Meenta Is Hiring Geneticists, Field Application Scientists – Screen for High Emotional Intelligence
- Finding Your Calling
- Sharing Your Wisdom – Techstars
- We Are All Fans of Clem Cazalot of Techstars Boston
- “I would say your podcast helped people learn fast.”
Transcript of, “A Marketplace for Science”
GUEST: FOUNDER & CTO, STEPHAN SMITH
Sal Daher’s Intro
SAL DAHER: Welcome to Angel Invest Boston. I’m your host Sal Daher, an angel investor who delights in the fascinating tech companies being built in Boston’s singular startup ecosystem. Because of the unique concentration of great universities here, Boston is a massive exporter of great startup ideas and a huge importer of capital. This idea-rich and capital-poor environment gives me the opportunity to invest early in the companies that will be changing our world, companies such as FineTune Learning. Tell you a bit more about FineTune later. Now I’m excited to introduce my guest today, Stephan Smith, founder and CTO of Meenta. Stephan, welcome to our studios.
STEPHAN SMITH: Thank you for having me. Good morning, Sal.
SAL DAHER: This is awesome.
Stephan Smith Bio
Stephan Smith studied geology and geophysics at Boston College, one of the many outstanding universities here in Boston. After two years as a consulting geologist during which time he seems to have spent most of his time on data management projects, Stephan launched into a career as a developer, at times working for large organizations and at a times running his own shop. In 2016, Stephan joined Gabor Bethlendy, who has been interviewed on this podcast, in founding a really consequential company called Meenta, M-E-E-N-T-A, a hugely promising company that we’re going to be discussing today. By the way, as a disclosure, I’m an investor of Meenta, an early investor in Meenta. Stephan, for those not familiar with the company, tell us what Meenta does and why it’s important.
What Meenta Does & Why It Matters: Like Amazon Web Services for Scientists
Stephan Smith: Sure. I’m happy to talk about it. Meenta is a platform at its space. We are a solution that help speed up science in an area in which most people work in the status quo, they accept long procurement times, lack of access, lack of visibility. Meenta makes scientists more effective by helping them get to discoveries faster by giving them access to equipment much the same way that AWS lets developers and companies scale faster and respond to changes.
SAL DAHER: AWS for scientists?
STEPHAN SMITH: Yes, exactly.
SAL DAHER: On demand, availability of high end, very expensive to maintain equipment, and without sending out a bunch of faxes and emails, and so forth.
STEPHAN SMITH: Exactly. You can imagine that many of these scientists are not procurement specialists. They’re really hyper focused on the things that make a difference in either the research or the patients they’re focused on. We’ve started with NGS, which stands for next-generation sequencing, which is basically the DNA. These pieces of equipment are $500,000 to $1 million. They usually have a shelf life of four years before their paperweights. They’re really hard to operate. They require full-time dedicated staff who understands the experimental design process. They often are publicly-funded and they sit in labs, but they’re not really accessible.
SAL DAHER: Idle half the time.
“Half the time they sit idle and half the time if someone owns one of these instruments, there’s still a long wait to get on them. They’re not simple devices, but they are crucial for research.”
STEPHAN SMITH: Half the time they sit idle and half the time if someone owns one of these instruments, there’s still a long wait to get on them. They’re not simple devices, but they are crucial for research. Speed is the primary focus on how we think about this, is that most scientists wait three months from the time they decide they need access to an Illumina sequencer or proteomics device before they get their data. We turn that around, no quotes, no PDFs, none of that stuff. We give them their data back in 14 days which …
SAL DAHER: Wow.
Stephan Smith: … most scientists listen to that don’t really believe it. When their data arrives at 13 days or 15 days, they usually comment on it because they suddenly change their worldview when they think, I don’t have to wait for this stuff, I can actually get it faster.
SAL DAHER: Amazing. Amazing. In your old software world, if you had a business that all of a sudden had a tremendous burst in activity and they needed more servers, in the old days, you have to go out and buy more servers, things are crashing and so on. Then it became possible to just sign up with AWS or other services and you have servers on demand. Same thing here. Used to take 3 months for you to book time on one of these high-end sequencing machines and have all the reagents and everything else lined up and the right people and so forth, and now you’re doing it within 2 weeks, 12 days.
“Used to take 3 months for you to book time on one of these high-end sequencing machines and have all the reagents and everything else lined up and the right people and so forth, and now you’re doing it within 2 weeks, 12 days.”
STEPHAN SMITH: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s actually one of our major hurdles that we’ve worked over for the last two or three years, which is getting people to think these instruments are not virtualized into the Cloud …
SAL DAHER: No.
Biggest Obstacle: Convincing People That They Don’t Have to Do Things the Old, Slow Way
Stephan Smith: … but they’re accessible the way a virtual instrument would be. Its status quo works against us. As a disruptor, you’re not fighting technology, you’re not fighting costs, you’re really fighting people’s perception of the way they solve a problem.
SAL DAHER: The 80 emails back and forth to get the thing done. I know the temptation. I’ve been around businesses long enough to see that you’re so overwhelmed that you don’t have the time to actually figure out a way to do it better. It’s basically a software overlay on the availability of these machines. You can tell what machines are available when, you know their schedule, and then you can basically book a time and you have a bunch of questions that you ask people about what experiment they’re going to be running.
The Unique Challenges of a Multi-Sided Marketplace
STEPHAN SMITH: Meenta is a multisided marketplace. That means that there are two different players that sit on our space, the people who own the equipment and we call them hosts, and there are people who need the equipment. We refer them as demand. These are researchers, principal investigators, bioinformaticians. Our platform allows both parties to come together. When the hosts, people who own the equipment come to us, they get to control the entire experience, what machines they put up, what prices, what rules for submitting samples. When the researchers come to us, they are focused on do I want the fastest machine, do I want …
SAL DAHER: The researchers being the demand?
STEPHAN SMITH: The demand. The demand comes to us. They make a decision the same way. When you go to KAYAK, you can decide one day you want to fly first class, the next day you want to fly cheaper, maybe you want more connections or less connections. We let them make a buy decision that’s either price, speed, or quality. Then we let them reshuffle those depending on what they need. The reality is that these scientists don’t actually care about the instrument, they care about the data that comes off of it. There’s a whole range of people in pharma and biotech and research who are all focused on moving an experimental design that are already working forward.
They traditionally think, okay, I got to go to a core, I have to set up a procurement relationship. When they discover us, they suddenly get this idea that they get to see prices and availability live. Imagine the difference if you went on Uber and Uber said, “Well, here are the times you can book a taxi,” and they’ll get back to you with a price of what that taxi drive will be, that would be the end of Uber. Airbnb would be the same. Airlines would be the same. You don’t get four different quotes when you want to fly to Russia on four different airlines. You go to kayak.com. You punch in your requirements. You get it back.
“…we let our users make a decision based on whether they care about speed, or quality, or price.”
That access to data, visibility, quality control, and brand, we let our users make a decision based on whether they care about speed, or quality, or price. Then we let them change that requirement on a day to day basis. Some days, they care about just using an A/B test on whether or not there’s an expression of a gene and a sample, in which case they want to pay very little and they send it out to some place that has no name.
SAL DAHER: Wow. Real market discovery that you’re allowing on your platform. This is really tremendous. Now, please tell us the founding story of Meenta, in particular how you and Gabor, your co-founder, came together.
How the Co-Founders, Stephan & Gabor, Came Together
STEPHAN SMITH: Sure. Gabor and I had one commonality when we first met. Our sons went to school together, small parochial school in the North End. Our sons didn’t always get together. They weren’t the best of friends. Gabor and I met over drinks at a fundraiser. Gabor is a scientist and a business person, but primarily a scientist. Still astounds me with how much he knows about our industry. I’m a software guy and I have been doing serial startups for a while. Some of them are successful, some of them are not, but learning as I go. Gabor approached me in the spring of 2016 and said, “I have this idea for this pain point in my current startup and I don’t know what the shape of it is.”
“…we were 10 minutes into him telling me about the problem and I think the top of my head blew off. I was like, this is what I’ve been waiting for. This is a massive market.”
I had just left a startup in which I had a CEO that wasn’t really going the direction I wanted to go. I had just done a postmortem on my startup experience and said, I need a CEO who knows the space cold. I need customers that are clear. I need a well-funded marketplace. Biotech had plenty of money in it. When he and I sat down in District Hall, which is our co-working space in the seaport area, I think we were 10 minutes into him telling me about the problem and I think the top of my head blew off. I was like, this is what I’ve been waiting for. This is a massive market.
SAL DAHER: Yeah, it is.
STEPHAN SMITH: No competitors. The impact, the ability to change the world in infinitesimal way that is hidden is perfectly lined up with my worldview.
SAL DAHER: I think about nine months before that, I had sat down in a coffeehouse in Cambridge with Gabor. Gabor had told me about his crazy idea, because I had invested in a prior startup that he was involved with, he was a co-founder of, it wasn’t a huge success. He had some ideas about that. I was very impressed by the fact that after having a very tough struggle … I mean, they really developed the product to great extent, but they never quite figured out how to get paid in the healthcare space. It’s really, really hard. The regulatory hurdles and all the stuff, they’re just tremendously difficult. They just couldn’t figure out how to get paid and so on.
Gabor knows a lot about the space. He’s been in these life science companies for a long time. I think he had some ideas burning inside him, and this was Meenta. He was like, “Saleh, it’s unbelievable how inefficient the scientific process is. They’re just in the Stone Age. They’re sending emails back and forth to book experiments.” Patrick Collison, the founder of Stripe, I listened to an interview that he did talking about just how the inputs into science have exploded in the past several decades, but the number of groundbreaking discoveries is flat.
It’s like we’re throwing a lot of money, and a lot of people, and a lot of equipment, and the really groundbreaking discoveries, which means papers that get hugely cited and so forth, they’re still flat. Science is exploding. Part of that I suspect, and I think he suspects as well, is there are not incentives in place for people to be efficient to use capital wisely. There’s a lot of replication of purchase of capital equipment. You have a lot of this expensive equipment sitting idle 50% of the time and this is equipment that in two years it’s going to be worthless, it’s going to be the next generation’s up. Also, how grants are made and so forth. It’s a very, very complex problem. I think you guys are working in a really, really interesting corner of that.
STEPHAN SMITH: One of the things we know is that the researchers, imagine an Anderson Consulting level professional who really knows an entire industry, not just one scientific problem working at a core lab in which they have access to equipment. These are highly trained, dual skilled, multi-skilled people. They are incentivized away from efficiency because the universities are the large core labs, buy this equipment to move science forward. Education is inefficient because that’s the nature of the way education works. If Harvard, or MIT, or any large core facility that has 15 or 20 core labs decided to sell off their spare capacity, the way they would do that is hire a business development person.
“We allow them [universities] to make their core labs more efficient by having more samples throw flow through these machines. These machines are able to run actually more efficiently.”
From the university and the science perspective, that person is essentially competing for the asset that the university bought to serve a scientific need. Universities will never hire that or sell off that spare capacity because it goes against their core vision of the world. Their mission is science and facilitating researchers to make discoveries. We slide right into that relationship because we’re not a cost. We allow them to make their core labs more efficient by having more samples throw flow through these machines. These machines are able to run actually more efficiently.
SAL DAHER: Efficiently, right.
STEPHAN SMITH: Then we are also not another headcount sitting on the core lab staff in which the Nobel laureate is yelling at the dean saying, why am I waiting in line, but the instrument I helped pay for is being used to make money for the university? We never have that conversation.
SAL DAHER: Because you have priority for the people who are using this, it’s invisible. You’re only using the downtime of the equipment. You’re creating a use for when the equipment is not being used.
STEPHAN SMITH: If you think about this… like you might think of an airline, like a plane that’s going to get ready to fly to Rio de Janeiro or to Moscow, airlines, their sole job is to get enough people to fill the plane to go to Rio de Janeiro. If tomorrow there was some government rule, FAA said, “All planes have to fly with 100% or 99% of their seats full,” what would end up happening is that the airlines would start cancelling their booking systems and you’d show up at the airport and wait. When there was enough people in the room to go to Moscow, the plane that was going to Rio would go to Moscow.
SAL DAHER: Moscow, right.
STEPHAN SMITH: Because it would be too inefficient to run otherwise. That same problem happens. You buy half a million dollar piece of Illumina sequencing equipment, you put it in your lab. The fewer people you have on it, the more the longer the waitlist is because some people want it running in one configuration and some people wanted another. When we start bringing more people into it, we allow them to pair up, fill the seats faster and run sooner.
SAL DAHER: Okay. When you do a run, instead of just reconfiguring the whole equipment to do one run, you reconfigure the whole equipment and you do three runs, and that helps pay for maybe more equipment for more science, and so forth. They don’t make money from it, they save money on there.
“Their internal users will see that their access time to an instrument goes down. They can get on it sooner, which is counterintuitive, but it is reality.”
STEPHAN SMITH: Well, they will actually do both. Their internal users will see that their access time to an instrument goes down. They can get on it sooner, which is counterintuitive, but it is reality. The second thing is because of these core labs run this equipment, they have to factor in. They have internal margins. Those margins take into account that there are failure conditions. If we come in and increase the speed, then the cost for running the individual instrument per run comes down.
SAL DAHER: Comes down, right.
STEPHAN SMITH: Which means the university says their investment in this piece of equipment has gotten better, so our scientists are happy because they’re waiting less time. Our cost to run the equipment has come down because we’re actually running it more efficient like any engine that runs often enough.
SAL DAHER: Like a turbo, a jet engine is meant to run at a high speed. If you’re running at slow speed, you’re burning a lot more fuel.
STEPHAN SMITH: This is a thesis that we saw in the first days we started looking at this. Because before I would work with Gabor, I said, “Show me all your customers. Show me the pain. I want to hear the pain from the real person.” I’ve done this for long enough to know that CEOs will pitch you on everything. I’m a technical founder. Technical founders don’t grow on trees so you tell people what they need. I went out and met with universities up in New Hampshire and Vermont, and they all said the same thing. They said, “Yes, this is a clear and present problem.”
When it Costs $15,000 per Run, You’re Not Going to Run Your Sequencer Half Full. It Pays to Get Others on the Machine to Share the Cost.
Then when we knew that this problem existed, before we’d actually started solving it, we actually have noticed that the same thing happens when a biotech or a pharma says, “Stephan, we don’t need Meenta. We own a NovaSeq.” They tell us no. We always smile because we know they’re going to come back. Then about a month later, one of their researchers comes and says, “Hey, look, we have a NovaSeq. It’s sitting quiet, but I can’t afford to run it. I’m happy to wait three months. Even though we own it, there’s no one else in line. I can’t afford to run it half full because it costs $15,000 to run at a pop.”
“What we’re doing is actually solving the core pain at the essence of who they are and the problem they’re trying to solve.”
They turn around and tell us no, and we’ve been told no across the board. Then we’ve had people have that moment where they suddenly see the light. That magic moment happened to me with Uber. I remember thinking Uber was a terrible idea until I’m on my way to the airport trying to figure out how many times I have to call a taxi company to get there and I had that magic moment. We actually see that magic moment happen. It’s happened across large pharma, small biotech, and academics. I’m particularly happy because we’re not taking rent, taking profits. What we’re doing is actually solving the core pain at the essence of who they are and the problem they’re trying to solve.
Sal Daher Talks About FineTune Learning
SAL DAHER: Amazing. Coming up next, I will ask Stephan Smith of Meenta the burning question on the mind of all angel investors, how was investing in your company going to give me the 20x or 30x return on my money that I seek? Before I ask that question, I would like to tell you a bit more about another interesting company in which I’m an early investor, FineTune Learning. When I invested at FineTune, then called Academic Merit, had software that helps students deepen their engagement with literature. By the way, are you familiar with FineTune, Stephan?
STEPHAN SMITH: I’m not. I’m interested now though.
SAL DAHER: Steve Shapiro is the CEO. I’ve interviewed him here; love the company. They originally had software to help high school students deepen their engagement with literature and to learn more about the literature they’re reading in the form of a software. It was a brainchild of a really inspiring high school teacher named Ogden Morse from Maine. Now, 3.6 million high schoolers who take the college APs exam will have their essay scored on FineTune’s platform. They’ve evolved the whole thing to be a software platform that makes it really easy for a teacher to grade an essay or in this case for the scorers of the College Board for the AP exam.
All the AP essays on the AP exam are going to be scored on this platform. During the year, the teachers will have access of the platform and they’ll be able to use the platform to score essays as their students are writing. They expect to have an actual improvement in the quality of the work that the students because it basically cuts in half the time it takes a teacher to score an essay.
STEPHAN SMITH: I’ve got a junior high school and a high school student too.
SAL DAHER: Yeah, AP?
STEPHAN SMITH: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
SAL DAHER: They’re going to be using this platform. The potential of this is when they go beyond the College Board, when they start getting adopted by school systems all across the country, imagine all of a sudden you double the capacity of teachers to teach writing. It eliminates all the very basic stuff, grammar can pick this up. Artificial intelligence is growing to the point where more and more can be done with a machine that can multiply the teacher by … Right now, it’s multiplying by two, but maybe someday it will be three or four. Then they allow the teacher to work on the stuff that’s uniquely human, that human beings are really good at and understanding arguments and so forth. It can actually recognize arguments for and against things.
STEPHAN SMITH: That’s fascinating because one of our tools that drives the way we improve is Grammarly. I’ve held off paying for it for years, but it literally makes our writing just a little bit better. It’s that last mile that [inaudible 00:18:40] …
SAL DAHER: This stuff is getting better. I use rev.com to do my transcripts, and they’re getting better. I think they have some kind of a platform. It’s not just a person doing it. I think there’s some intelligence behind it because I stopped doing it for a while, stopped using, then I started using them, they’ve improved markedly. I spent a lot less time correcting what comes out from rev.com, because it’s a lot better than it used to be. The point here is that if you’re an accredited investor and want to invest alongside Boston’s leading angels and interesting startups such as FineTune Learning or such as Meenta, please consider our investment syndicates.
By the way, it’s not a secret that Boston is a place that’s very idea rich and capital poor. I think .406 Ventures had a study some years ago that two-thirds of Series A money [going] companies located here in the Boston area comes from outside of the Boston area. Only one-third of it is from local capital. This is just in general. In the life sciences where I invest a lot, it’s even more cash poor because there’s so many ideas bubbling up. If you’re an early stage investor, you have a chance to invest in some really impressive companies really early on.
Anyway, Stephan Smith, please tell us how investing in an early stage company such as Meenta could provide an attractive return to an angel investor. Wouldn’t an early investor just have all of his or her ownership diluted by further raises and so forth?
The Burning Question for All Angel Investors: How Am I Going to Make Money on This Company?
STEPHAN SMITH: The heart of your question is around dilution for an early angel investor. The honest answer is if you do four or five rounds, you’re going to get diluted. Same way the investors are. The way I think about this, because I generally care about my angel investors very differently than I do later on because the people who believed in Gabor and I when we were just Gabor and I is use of funds. Gabor and I are not 24. We’re not making our name by buying flashy monitors and huge office space. We think about how do we take every dollar and make it drive toward the things that we care most about, and what we care most about is traction and sales.
If taking our staff out to dinner drives traction and sales, then we do it. Last week, one of my staff was asking me why I was still looking for cheaper office space. My answer is spending that money on office space doesn’t drive towards sales and revenue. Spending that money on training, more conferences, or bonuses for my staff directly drive to the thing I care most about. If we use our funds properly, it means we don’t need as much later on.
SAL DAHER: Yeah. It’s a real competition for getting skilled people. Saving your money for hiring the top people really makes a lot of sense. The other thing I think also part of the answer here I think can be that I see Meenta, them helping make my decision is that there’s a potential here. Since it’s a two-sided marketplace, I want to get into this two-sided marketplace a little further, the Harvard Business School study and all that later on. Since it’s a two-sided marketplace, once the engine starts chugging along, it’s very hard for people to compete. They will not have the liquidity.
They will not be able to provide scientists with access to the variety of equipment that you guys will be able to do. Basically, there’s a network effect at play. You just like, we’ll grow much faster than anybody else who’s trying to compete because they’ll be trying to jump all the hurdles that you guys have overcome. I think there’s a potential here if it’s well done, that you will not have to do a lot of raises. Because once you get those things set up, it should throw off cash like crazy. It’s not a business that requires tremendous amounts of expense. Once you got it running, the expense is on the books of the host and you’re creating value with a bit of software and this network of people who are interested in running experiments. This thing should throw off cash like crazy in my view. Of course, starting the engine is the really hard part.
Stephan Smith: It’s taken us three years. My wife and Gabor’s wife are the real troopers in this because they’ve held the ships of our family together as we have … I’ve been in snow storms in Vermont talking to researchers. Actually, the second part of your question is if we are a company that grows into a massive revenue engine, if we are able to continue providing value as we scale up, then we’re talking about a much larger piece of the pie that’s going to be distributed and dilution becomes less of an issue.
Harvard Business School Study on Meenta’s Approach to Two-Sided Markets
SAL DAHER: Yeah. That’s the ultimate answer to the question, is even if you have to do more rounds, but if you’re exploding, if your growth, the revenue that you’re generating is exploding, it’s going to be money to pay everybody and there will not be dilution. I want to talk to you about the two-sided marketplace we touched a little bit before. I understand that there was a Harvard Business School case study that’s been done on Meenta, because of its unique approach. Two-sided marketplace is like chicken and egg. That means market on one side, that’s the market for the thing that’s being sold, and the market on the other side are the buyers for the thing that’s being sold.
You have to get that supply and then you have to find the buyers. You have to find buyers and sellers to put them together. It’s really hard, because I’ve been involved with two-sided marketplaces in my businesses. I know this personally, that you always end up with an imbalance. You always have too many one and too little of the other, and finding and developing the hard side. I suspect the easy part here is to signup facilities, the hosts, who have idle equipment. It costs them absolutely nothing to just go on your system a little onboarding and then they’re on.
On the other side, getting people to discover, to find out what you’re doing and to start doing things in a way different from what they’ve been doing in the past, that’s a lot harder. That’s the side where you would expect to have shortage. It’s hard to build the demand, but the supply is building up. Explain to me how you guys are overcoming the traditional problem of two-sided marketplaces, mismatch of supply and demand.
STEPHAN SMITH: Our first step, which is a typical analytical scientific approach, is we went out and found the premier writer and thinker and thought leader in two-sided marketplaces, and so kind of Andrew Heggie. He is a researcher and a teacher at Sloan School. We sat down with him and asked the same question. We started digging into two-sided marketplaces, the Ubers, the Airbnbs. I’ve had a lot of experience with Airbnb, because my wife runs the host side of it in Boston for our own properties. We look at it and we started digging in to the problem that two-sided marketplaces have. Traditionally, people focus on that supply and demand.
“The bigger problem that I see is how do you provide value for both sides of the marketplace so you don’t have a churn retention issue.”
I don’t think that’s actually the biggest problem. The bigger problem that I see is how do you provide value for both sides of the marketplace so you don’t have a churn retention issue. Our first approach was, was to dig into the pain point, really dig in. We did interviews. When I joke that we drove up to Vermont in the middle of a snow storm, we wanted them to talk to us as much as they can to expose the little pain points that we can solve so that when they’re on our platform, we’re not finding our host churning. Sometimes they say that Uber has to resell their drivers all the time. The drivers are churning.
Minute Attention to Pain Points of Both Sides Is Key to Retention and Growth
We’ve been looking very closely at the pain points that one side of the marketplace have, and that’s the hosts, the people owning the equipment. We’ve identified four or five places in which we can de-risked their business, improve their margins, and improve their user’s experience because these people truly care about the outcome of the projects that come to them. Then we looked at the researcher’s side, the demand side, and we’ve said, what are the pain points they feel most? It’s not going to be surprising, email and procurement. Email and procurement. We count. It’s 95 emails sometimes in two or three months for them to do our traditional project.
We’ve literally gone to people’s inboxes and said, let’s look at this, let’s do the final account. If you’re a researcher out in the Midwest and you have maybe 5,000 samples you’re going to do this year, you typically would set up a procurement relationship with one vendor or two because it can take you three or four months to set it up. Your pricing is based on volume. You really don’t have the ability to make a buy decision based on speed, quality, or price. When we realized that if we give them that ability to envision the world in which they can change their priorities on an hour by hour basis, and we actually had this conversation with a genomics therapeutics company in the West Coast where they said to us, “You mean we can change what we care about? We don’t have to have our procurement relationship shift?” Once we identified both sides of those, we knew what the pain points we were solving. We could articulate them clearly. Then we went out and started collecting supply. We have this concept of supply to demand liquidity. Anything we do is a cost. Getting supply cost money. If I sign up 50 hosts, but I can’t send them an order in the first month, then …
SAL DAHER: They’re not going to be happy.
STEPHAN SMITH: Yeah. It’s supply that I bought that’s waiting on the shelf because it took me time and energy to get them on the platform. What we do, and that’s when our engine started to move last summer, was when we had orders that we could go out and incentivize hosts that have been with us the longest and we could start that flywheel moving. I can tell you, when a host gets $100,000 orders from us, they go from believing it less like an angel investor to really caring because we started touching their bottom line.
SAL DAHER: They can’t leave you alone after that, yeah.
STEPHAN SMITH: No. It’s truly beautiful because I know exactly what part of the business we’re touching and how we’re impacting. Then what we do is we balance. We have this internal equation that we play with, which is for any request that comes to our platform, if you’re looking for a specific NovaSeq configuration, we want to be able to offer two to three viable options. We don’t care if they’re high and they’re low. We don’t care what the delta is on their price. What we really care about is we can give them an answer very quickly. If we can give them an answer that has five sequencing options, then we don’t have supply to demand liquidity.
What we found is that works really, really well. We don’t overbuy. We don’t go get too much instruments. We get a distribution and we know occasionally what we have to scramble, although we’re scrambling a lot less than we used to. That allows us to break some of the problems with the two-part marketplace. Then the third component is disintermediation. You’ll see this in startups that are multisided marketplaces, which is like Airbnb. My wife runs an Airbnb. She had some properties and she manages them from people. The reason that we don’t allow people to go around Airbnb for her business is because there is so much protection and viability on the platform for both parties.
How Meenta Keeps Clients from Going Direct and Cutting them Out of the Business
If you don’t have some way to combat someone sending $100,000 order to a host, they realize who the host is and they go directly to them, then we have a problem. That is where we first said this is where our mode is. We have ways to make it so that that host would never want to go around us because the protections, the value, and the speed that we bring are things that they couldn’t duplicate themselves. We’ve proven this because host now to us and say, “Look, we don’t really care about the extra business, we care about the communication support and facilitation on your platform because those are core features that we don’t want to build ourselves.
“…the marketplace is secure because we don’t see people leaving and we see them rebuying.”
Our university would never fund us to build a chat channel that’s sample specific that has messaging over Slack, Twitter, and chat.” Those are services and features that they’re way downstream in our value prop, but they are the things that people are starting to resonate on. That’s remote. That’s the place where you say the marketplace is secure because we don’t see people leaving and we see them rebuying.
SAL DAHER: Okay, this is really, really interesting. What you’re saying is that you started paying very close attention to the pain points that the supply side, so to speak, the hosts, had in getting this thing started and then you were very conscious of not overbuilding the supply to the extent that they are not getting enough traffic. If you bring on supply, you’re pretty sure that there’s going to be demand for that.
STEPHAN SMITH: Imagine an Uber driver who signs up on Uber and his phone never rings.
SAL DAHER: Rings, yeah, exactly.
STEPHAN SMITH: The next week, he’s not an Uber driver. Now, we have a slightly different problem because these instruments are there and that core lab is still doing what they’re doing. They’re not thinking about us. They’re not caring.
A Comparison with Thumbtack
SAL DAHER: I was listening to a podcast. It was Jason Calacanis interviewing the founder of Thumbtack, I think Marco Zappacosta. He’s Pierluigi Zappacosta’s son, Pierluigi Zappacosta, Logitech. As a matter of fact, he [Pierluigi Zappacosta] had a very crucial role in my first angel exit because he put Beth Marcus onto the idea of transforming the device that she had in her company into something that became a videogame controller at Microsoft. He says, “No, that’s not a mouse. It’s a videogame controller.” The son is Marco and he’s one of the founders of Thumbtack. They had a similar problem, because this is two-sided marketplace.
What they do is that they have people who do work and repairing houses and so forth and then you have people who need that work done in their houses. When they initially set up the supply, it was very one-sided. The people who loved the business the most were the tradespeople, the plumbers, and the carpenters, and all that stuff. Because basically, it allowed them to have a lot more business than they used to have, but they didn’t have to treat those people really nicely. It’s just like they treated them the way they normally treat them, which is like turn them on, turn them off. If I have a job right now, I don’t answer the phone.
I don’t have a job, then I answer the phone. That’s not a way to have a sustainable business. They refigured their system in such a way that if you’re the customer who needed repair done in your house, you are guaranteed to get three or four quotes from these different vendors who are really very pleased to be on the Thumbtack platform because they’re getting more work than they ever got before. They reengineered it so that that side was getting some butter in their bread as well. They’re getting quick responses. They’re getting three or four quotes. They’re good quotes. They paid a lot of attention to improving the quality of the quotes to the people who were getting the least in the network so that they can balance. The tradespeople were still fine because they were overwhelmed at work before and that’s why they weren’t providing good service.
STEPHAN SMITH: I think the two-sided marketplaces that supply a greater good that focus on the governance rules that allows both parties to benefit equally or have both parties feel like they are getting the ultimate benefit, those are things that will persist and those platforms will weather the up and down. When I see platforms that don’t do this, then I don’t see them surviving long term. I see them as being a marketplace that’s either legislative where there’s some kind of structure within the economy that makes them have a profitability or have an edge for a while like Groupon. Groupon, I didn’t see as having a … It served me really well in 2008 when I was on fumes, but it doesn’t serve me now.
SAL DAHER: It’s terrible for the businesses.
STEPHAN SMITH: Exactly.
SAL DAHER: They get hooked on that stuff and they cannot survive doing that. I’ve seen a really very inventive founder. I had an excellent idea for something like Groupon, which was much more along the lines of allowing restaurants to have an upgraded experience. It’s like a discounted, upgraded experience. Instead of discounting their regular experience in this surviving and bare bones or basically they’re doing is creating an experience where the diner would have a really unusual experience way beyond what you would normally get in these already high-end restaurants and that would be discounted.
The discounts there can be very large because the margins are massive in those kinds of offerings. That to me seems like a really promising idea that could have legs, whatever. I haven’t seen anything further from him. Anyway, very good. Now, Stephan, give us an idea where Meenta is right now in terms of traction.
“…we assumed the $2,000 order size. Our order sizes are dramatically bigger.”
STEPHAN SMITH: Sure. Our first traction, our first revenue came in this last summer. The order size has started to flow. I think our first learning lesson was our initial model was we assumed the $2,000 order size. Our order sizes are dramatically bigger. Our second learning lesson is, so we did about $250,000 worth of business last year, we had about a 16% take rate on that. This year, 2020, is all going to be about expanding our instrument, more instrument types so that we can touch larger experiments and growing ourselves. We’ll be hiring on the sales, the marketing, and the dev front so that we can go after sales. We’ve had to leave on the sidelines because we didn’t have the right instruments and we weren’t able to supply it fast enough.
SAL DAHER: You’re at the point now where you have to grow your supply again.
STEPHAN SMITH: Yes. We take a very tactical approach. Actually, the meeting I had right before this was, out of the thousands of core facilities we want to bring on, how do we figure out the one that’s going to most closely align with the thing we care about, which is market, supply, demand, liquidity.
SAL DAHER: Interesting. Interesting.
STEPHAN SMITH: There’s not 100. There’s 10 or 15. Then as any startup, you’re trying to figure out how to hack the market. That means, how do we find the trade organization that gives us 500 at once? We really try to be very tactical about it.
SAL DAHER: Where do you expect to be at the end of the year 2020?
“Our clear North Star is $1.6 million worth of gross revenue per month by December of 2020. That’s our goal.”
STEPHAN SMITH: Sure. Our clear North Star is $1.6 million worth of gross revenue per month by December of 2020. That’s our goal.
SAL DAHER: 1.6 million in maintaining the take of the 16% take.
STEPHAN SMITH: The second part of that is growing our margins. Our margins are about 16% now. We expect to grow that to about 25 or 30 mostly by adding more value to the hosts. Many of these hosts have to have big freezers and carry inventory. We are setting up relationships, allow us to drop ship that stuff that they used to have to have store. That’s part of our …
SAL DAHER: Wow. Not only saving cost, but making life easier for them.
STEPHAN SMITH: Yeah. I want those hosts to turn to us in a year or two and be like, “Meenta is our secret weapon. We made all our researchers and our facility happy. We did more of the kind of work that we like to do and look at all the publications that popped out of this.” Sometimes that’s as simple as solving this massive freezer that they have to put stuff in and they have to manage it. Imagine if they never had to have those freezer management software. They could say, “Meenta drop ships the reagents, the chemicals that go into it for that run specifically and it arrives a day before it’s needed.” That’s the second part, is growing our margins.
SAL DAHER: Fantastic. Fantastic. What’s the potential size of this business? What do you envision this becoming?
STEPHAN SMITH: This is a hard question because Gabor and I both come from a science background. I was a geologist, he is a geneticist. We typically don’t talk about data we don’t have. The way I think about this is that the addressable market that we’re going after just with next-generation sequencing outsourced nonclinical research is about $8 billion a year. The rest of the industry is much bigger. If we move into clinical, which clinical is the difference between research where the rules are a little bit more flexible in data handling to clinical is this is going to touch a patient and this is going to have an impact on standard of care. That’s a trillion dollar market.
I couldn’t even begin to tell you the size or the shape of that. My gut feeling and my guts have been telling me how this is going for the last three years is that we probably will exceed our sales growth for this year. If we’re sitting down here at this time exactly 12 months from now and we were averaging $3 million of gross sales a month, I won’t be surprised. I’ll be happy, because it will be hard work to get there. Our sales team will have been on the trenches. That’s where we’re going. Then as we start expanding to more instruments, that means we get to offer a much more nuanced, what we call our workflow. Think about a workflow as when you go to KAYAK and you can book both the flight, the hotel, the spa visit, and the car rental, and they’re all cheaper because you booked them together.
SAL DAHER: Together, yeah.
STEPHAN SMITH: When you go home and tell your spouse or your partner, “Hey, we’re going to Tokyo and look at the great things we’re going to do,” you’re not telling he or her, “Hey, this is the flight we’re going to take.” You’re telling, “Oh no, here’s the experience.” Because in the end, scientists don’t care about the instruments. They don’t really care about the data. They care about what comes out of that data and how it affects the change that they’re working on.
SAL DAHER: Excellent. Okay, we’re going to move onto the section about the company. If there’s anything else you want to say about the company, you’re welcome to say it.
Meenta Is Hiring Geneticists, Field Application Scientists – Screen For High Emotional Intelligence
STEPHAN SMITH: We are hiring. If there are scientists, geneticists, we’re looking for a field application scientists.
SAL DAHER: Field application scientists, okay.
STEPHAN SMITH: Yeah. We screen for technical fit, but we hire for cultural fit. The startup world has its own set of hurdles. We hire for people who are high on the emotional intelligence scale, we think we are. We look for people that want to make a difference.
SAL DAHER: I know these guys, they’re very nice bunch of guys.
STEPHAN SMITH: We work at it.
SAL DAHER: They’re nice people. That’s actually Joe Caruso who’s been on the podcast, he’s a great mentor too. He’s a great angel investor. If you can figure out a way to have him on your cap table …
STEPHAN SMITH: By hook or crook.
SAL DAHER: By hook or by crook, have him on because he’s a great guy. He says, “Sal, you know … ” He talks like that. We call him the father confessor of CEOs, because he’s Italian. He says, “Sal, always in my career, you hire people for what they knew and you fire them for who they were.” It’s like …
STEPHAN SMITH: When we first met Joe Caruso, Gabor and I are two different sides of the coin, and Gabor and I …
SAL DAHER: Is he an investor with you guys?
STEPHAN SMITH: No. Joe is the fish that got away.
SAL DAHER: Joe, it’s time to get on board.
STEPHAN SMITH: Joe stood in elevators with me and said, “I’m almost there. I’m just not excited enough.” I said, “Joe, it doesn’t matter. We’re not used car salesman here. We’ll come back to you.” There is a spot on our cap table with Joe’s name on it.
SAL DAHER: Awesome.
STEPHAN SMITH: Even if I have to give him a share, there’s a spot for him.
SAL DAHER: Yeah. Joe also has a permanent invitation to come back on the podcast because his podcast was so hugely popular, because he has these things that he says just like … Any topic he talks about, he’ll have something tremendously interesting to say.
STEPHAN SMITH: He gave us advice. We were running low on funds probably about 15 months ago, 14 months ago. He had helped us during Techstars. He was a really influential on kicking the bad ideas out of our pitch and really tuning us. We sat down and we said, we can go A or B. A means we just sell like madmen and stop raising money, or B, we take all the remaining money in our ramp and we start raising more money. Joe is like, “Always go with the revenue.”
SAL DAHER: He’s right. He’s absolutely right.
STEPHAN SMITH: It was hard. It was supremely difficult decision. It’s what got us this great year we had and what’s setting us up for 2020.
SAL DAHER: Awesome. I’m excited. I’m excited.
STEPHAN SMITH: Hey, Joe, we love you.
Finding Your Calling
SAL DAHER: Finding your calling section. Tell us about where you grew up, what your parents did, and how that informed you’re going out and having a bunch of ventures, and then launching on this just grand adventure.
STEPHAN SMITH: Sure. Sure. I am the son of a military officer and a teacher, a special ed teacher. I started my life a little slow. I had to repeat second grade, which I think is actually my strongest strength. Nothing like a little bit of a learning disability to make you focus on what you need to do to succeed. We lived all over the world. We live in the Philippines, and I think that was probably one of the most influential things. We also were the only family I’ve ever run across that didn’t have a TV. My parents, they weren’t Amish, but they wanted to control the flow of information.
SAL DAHER: They were the family that shut the TV.
STEPHAN SMITH: We had no TV. We didn’t have cable. I was allowed to watch if I went to a friend’s house. As a result, I read nonstop because that was the only thing you could do in our family. When I went to Boston College, I studied geology and computers. All I knew was I always wanted to have my own business. I used to deliver flyers for a penny a piece. I was figuring out if I could get four businesses to give me four different flyers, I can get four cents a door instead of one cent a door. I never got it to work, but I worked my butt off trying to get it to work. I mean, 600 flyers is 6 bucks. It’s not a lot of money, but I always had that in the back of my mind. I would be very honest in telling everyone I’m a terrible employee, because I want to do it my way and I want to be in charge. I feel like I’m not the perfect person to do it, but I want my …
SAL DAHER: You take responsibility, yeah.
“My wife, thank God, is more than willing to take long bets with me.”
STEPHAN SMITH: Yup. My last startup, I was with a really cool startup called Maxwell Health. I think they just had an exit to Sun Life. I had a day in which I was sitting with their CEO and a couple of their people and I just said, “This is killing me that I’m not him.” That’s when I quit that job. I was making a really good salary. I quit and went out. My wife, thank God, is more than willing to take long bets with me.
SAL DAHER: Yeah. This is really quite an adventure. That’s very interesting.
STEPHAN SMITH: I had my dark nights.
SAL DAHER: Yeah, I can imagine. By the way, geologists, quite aside from what we’re saying here, the book called The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, geologists, along with high school teachers, stand out as people who build a lot more wealth, a tremendous amount of wealth because geologists usually they earn well. They’re usually working in places where there’s very little temptation to spend money.
STEPHAN SMITH: Low cost of living, yeah.
SAL DAHER: Usually, company housing, frequently company housing. If you’re in some project in Sarawak, in Indonesia, or someplace like that as a geologist, there’s nothing for you to spend money on.
STEPHAN SMITH: I’ve long since jettisoned my geology, I have a little of it, once in a while it pops up out of the back of my head. I think we’re living in the golden age of geology now. The skills, the GIS, the technology that comes to bear is astoundingly sophisticated. There’s a company in our cohort of startups called Risk.
SAL DAHER: GIS, what is GIS?
Stephan Smith: GIS stands for geographic information systems. It’s essentially mapping. Google basically, Google maps and Google mapping software essentially …
SAL DAHER: It’s application of software visualization tools and data to geology, to a very old science.
STEPHAN SMITH: Yup. It allows you to study maybe the relationship between fault lines, and groundwater springs, and contamination points. We study things like breast cancer hotspots on Cape Cod, nitrogen loading. It allows you to see the world at a much larger perspective. Now that we’re facing global warming, that ability to see the world at a global perspective is the way we start solving some of these problems. There is a company called Risk. It’s a small startup that’s helping price the risk and the costs for global warming to municipalities and long term bonds. There are group of 5 or 10 of these geologists, like a geologist and a computer person together sitting in Venture Lane. They’re astounding. I’m like, “If … “
SAL DAHER: Yes, I saw those guys. I’ll probably have them on at some point.
Stephan Smith: You should definitely.
SAL DAHER: Yeah, yeah, we’re …
STEPHAN SMITH: I almost think we were children when we’re doing GIS, geographic information system 20 years ago. What these guys are doing, it makes me wish I was still a geologist. If I wasn’t doing startup, I’d be over there worrying about those guys.
SAL DAHER: So many disciplines are like that. It’s like Arnold Palmer, I think he used to sell cars in the off season. The big-name golfers now, they’re golfing year round. They’re not selling cars in the off season. He used to practice a little bit, but he was selling cars. Everything has become unbelievably more sophisticated, more professionalized; athletes in one area, in geology, and so forth. That’s part of what makes our lives just so abundant. The previous podcast, I made a comparison between… I always wonder why my mother had two wash & wear shirts for each one of us as a school uniform. There are four kids and only two shirts [each].
That means that she was washing shirts at least twice in the middle of the week so we could have clean shirts to go to school. They’re hanging there to dry. I said, why don’t she buy more shirts? I looked back, the shirts are worth $3.43 on the Sears catalog in that season. If you look at today’s money, you adjust for money and all that stuff. It’s like they’re 50% cheaper. The shirts today are 50% cheaper if you adjust for inflation. The big difference is that in those days, people used to make in real current dollars 1/10th of what they make now in America. Think of this, it’s like 15 times a shirt used to cost, cost 15 times what it costs now. What if you had to pay 200 bucks to buy a kid’s shirt? How many would you have?
STEPHAN SMITH: You’d have a lot fewer but higher quality.
SAL DAHER: You see how much richer we are? Probably the shirt today is much better than the wash & wear shirt circa 1966. People grumble, “Oh, we’re so this and that.” We are so immeasurably wealthier when we look at these consumer goods. Doesn’t apply across everything, but items… traded goods like shirts and so forth in terms of people’s earning power is just … There’s no comparison. It comes from all these innovations, all these new ways of doing things just so much better.
Sharing Your Wisdom – Techstars
Excellent. Stephan, we’re going to round this up with basically opening up to you to if there are any thoughts that you want to share with our audience of founders, people who work at startups and investors, things that come to mind from all the great experiences that you’ve had.
STEPHAN SMITH: Techstars was influential in the way Gabor and I view the world. It radically changed our worldview. One of the core statements, goals, objectives of Techstars is to give first. I don’t think Gabor and I truly understood it until we saw every single mentor who showed up. One of the things that I learned during Techstars is to ask people, what’s your super power? What’s that thing about you that maybe if I knew you long enough, I would find out? I talk to anybody. I tell people, “If you link and connect me and you ask for time, I will give it to you. I don’t care if you’re a junior high student or you’re 70 years old, I’ll talk to absolutely everybody.”
I tell people as my super power is I’m cheap. In technology, that means I know how to get stuff that other people pay $100 a month. I know how to get that same service for 10. If I ever told people what my tech stack cost, you probably think I was lying because it’s so low. I tell people my way to give first is if you’ve got a tech problem, I love coming up with list of tech solutions that people can roll in that make their business faster, or cheaper, or more effective and doesn’t cost anything. I would say that if you’re out there and you’re a startup guy and you’re trying to figure out how to get your tech stack lean, mean, and cheap, you should come talk to me. Because no one’s leaner, meaner, and cheaper than I am when it comes to … I mean, I’d rather spend my money on my bonuses for my people than on the tech driver.
SAL DAHER: You learn that at Techstars?
STEPHAN SMITH: Yeah. In 2009, I shut down a business. I knew how badly I had screwed up, how much I didn’t know. I couldn’t start a new business until I figure out what I did wrong. I paid my severance. I spent two years working two full time jobs. I was paying everything off. I knew that my secret power coming out of 2009 during the recession, the downturn was …
SAL DAHER: Horrible time.
STEPHAN SMITH: … leading edge tech. There are a lot of ways to give your business advantages and the way to do it is to be laser focused. I’ve spent the last 10 years reeducating myself. I have this panoply of solutions out there. I talked to Techstars companies all the time.
SAL DAHER: You can’t do everything.
STEPHAN SMITH: No.
SAL DAHER: Let me just say, I have yet to hear anybody talk about Techstars and anything but glowing terms.
STEPHAN SMITH: Yeah. They helped us articulate a vision. A month before we got into Techstars, we were lined up with our view on product going into the marketplace. When Gabor said, “Hey, look, we got in. Do you want in?” We applied last minute. I said, “Gabor, what if it’s just a three-month destruction?” I was way wrong. It was probably 18 months down the rabbit hole, but I think Techstars was the tactical advantage that will make our business successful, Gabor and I successful, and our investor successful. They’d given us more tools, and more free time, and more just of everything you need.
We Are All Fans of Clem Cazalot of Techstars Boston
SAL DAHER: Yeah, I should have Clem Cazalot on.
STEPHAN SMITH: Definitely.
SAL DAHER: Awesome.
STEPHAN SMITH: Clem’s a jewel.
SAL DAHER: Yeah, yeah. He’s a tremendous guy. He’s the head of Techstars here in Boston, Clem Cazalot, tremendous guy. Stephan Smith, I’m really grateful that you made time to come to our studios to be on the podcast and to give us this really engaging and very informative interview.
STEPHAN SMITH: Thank you for having me. It’s always nice to share what we’re doing.
SAL DAHER: That’s tremendous.
STEPHAN SMITH: Meet new people.
SAL DAHER: I’d like to invite our listeners who enjoyed this podcast to review it on iTunes. You too, Stephan. If you haven’t reviewed it yet, I think you have, is really helpful. If you particularly like an episode, review that episode. Put a review up because the algorithm will pick it up and that will get shown to a lot more people.
STEPHAN SMITH: We can do that.
SAL DAHER: The week after the launch, that episode gets featured and that’s what goes up on the first page on iTunes. This is a social enterprise we have working here. We’re spreading knowledge about how to build companies better all the time. Or like GIS is such a massive improvement over the old way that people used to do geology.
STEPHAN SMITH: Paper maps, yeah.
SAL DAHER: Yeah, exactly. Now, we are creating companies much better ways today than we used to. The podcast is a medium of disseminating that information, how you create companies in the beginning of the third decade of the 21st century.
“I would say your podcast helped people learn fast.”
STEPHAN SMITH: To be very specific, I think that a podcast like this is great because it pulls all the entrepreneurs out of their own head and gets them thinking about the learning lessons that every other entrepreneur has. The one trick to being a startup is you have to learn fast. I would say your podcast helped people learn fast.
SAL DAHER: I’ve had three founders tell me that they were inspired by the podcast.
Stephan Smith: That’s awesome. That’s wonderful.
SAL DAHER: One of them is sitting behind me, Raul.
STEPHAN SMITH: That’s fantastic.
SAL DAHER: Yeah, with the PodSpot. Thanks a lot, Stephan.
STEPHAN SMITH: Thanks for having me.
SAL DAHER: This is Angel Invest Boston. I’m Sal Daher.
I’m glad you were able to join us. Our engineer is Raul Rosa. Our theme is composed by John McKusick. Our graphic design is by Katharine Woodman-Maynard. Our host is coached by Grace Daher.