Startup Spotlight: KynplexJune 26, 2016
This week we speak with co-founder Grace Xiao about Kynplex, and how they came up with the idea of building a platform to provide a more efficient way to find relevant scientific information and connections.
Grace: Kynplex is a platform that brings the power of online networking to scientific innovation. Kynplex connects key people and opportunities so that more research ideas have the resources to become practical applications. Before we founded Kynplex, there was no efficient way to find relevant scientific information and connections. Groundbreaking findings are distributed through thousands of isolated scientific websites, journal publications and news releases. Hubs of innovation in academia and industry are siloed by geographic region or research field. The Kynplex platform provides a central channel for scientific users from research labs, companies and funding agencies to discover recent advances, form valuable connections and find opportunities that match their scientific interests.
Grace: My name is Grace Xiao and I’m the business co-founder of Kynplex. I have a background in neurobiology and economics at Harvard and my role involves user outreach, establishing partnerships and making business development decisions.
GH: What was your Eureka moment: how did Kynplex get started?
Grace: The idea for Kynplex emerged when my co-founder Raul and I were trying to find research labs at Harvard that we wanted to join. We were shocked by how difficult it was because scientific labs and initiatives are so decentralized. Through our involvement with the biotech association at Harvard, we realized that this was also a problem for industry because it’s hard to identify relevant information and expertise. We realized that we could tackle the challenge of inefficient scientific communication by designing networking platform for all types of scientific users.
GH: How did you build your team?
Grace: After conducting market research and building a prototype, Raul and I recruited talented team members from Harvard to help with tech and communications as we started expanding the platform.
GH: What is your company philosophy driving your company culture?
Grace: The driving mission of Kynplex is to connect the people and resources needed to turn research discoveries into impactful products. We believe that the connective power of technology should be used to accelerate scientific progress.
GH: Startup life is full of failures and ‘make it work’ moments – can you identify how you bounced back from one of yours?
Grace: The earliest version of the platform was confusing to navigate and we didn’t realize until we started talking to our users. We were able to solve this problem by redesigning the site to emphasize key features and facilitate user engagement.
GH: What did you learn from your first users?
Grace: We quickly learned that we had to design an intuitive user experience that provides scientific value. As a startup at the intersection of tech and science, we are always striving to merge innovative tech features with the specificity needed for scientific networking.
Grace: The Boston ecosystem has provided us with valuable resources to grow Kynplex, including mentorship, co-working space and web resources. Shout out to the Harvard Innovation Lab, Rough Draft Ventures, .406 Ventures and Harvard Startup RAD for their support of Kynplex.
GH: What is the Boston ecosystem lacking from your perspective?
Grace: Would love to see more events bringing together entrepreneurs from different industries and sectors.
GH: What’s the best/worst piece of advice you were given along the way?
Grace: I think the advice of being open to feedback and criticism can be both valuable and challenging. Although it’s necessary to learn and improve from feedback, it’s also important to maintain a clear vision despite conflicting opinions. With entrepreneurship there’s often no right answer so be open-minded to different perspectives and then make an informed decision that you believe in.
GH: What was the best thing that happened to you last year?
Grace: It was incredible to be awarded the Thiel Fellowship with my co-founder Raul and join an amazing community of inspiring young innovators. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to expand Kynplex with the support of the Thiel Foundation.