Dear scientists, listen up! Did you go looking for a chemical in the lab to find that the lab has ran out of it? Or accidentally forgot to attach a worksheet to your journal? There might be an app that will help you with that and more.
Benchpals, a NYU Poly startup which focuses on laboratory management has developed an app, specifically designed for scientists who work in labs. Designed by material chemistry doctoral students themselves, BenchPals is designed to help scientists and students manage inventories, data management for their lab experiments. The app is in the testing phase.
Started by Jasmine Hume, Ching Yao Yang and Raul Catena, the idea for the app was conceived while working in the lab. “The idea for it came while working. I realized that while working, I use my phone a lot for posting videos, listening to music because some experiments take 3-6 hours. And I started using calculators, timers simultaneously and realized there is no product that combines these elements on a phone. We also have budget constraints and that’s the moment we thought that we want to combine these elements together,” said Ching Yao Yang, originally from Taiwan, who moved to New York five years ago to pursue his masters in biomedical engineering.
The app will help scientists and students with the way that they work in labs by organizing different things in one place. Inventory and data management are two aspects that this app focuses on. “There is also one thing that is specific to people who work in labs which is managing chemical inventories. Shelves contain thousands of chemicals stored, imagine your kitchen, it’s just like that,” said Hume. “A lot of these things have expiration dates and a lot of them are hazardous and you really need to keep track of what you have and what you don’t and that also makes it more efficient in terms of purchasing,” said Hume, a Swedish American who grew up in Manhattan.
In terms of funding, BenchPals received a small funding from the NYU Venture Fund and from some contests that they entered. Hume and Yang believe that their full-time student status put them at a disadvantage from the funding point of view as investors are unwilling to fund students. “We are incredibly lean. We have spent no money at all. We are fortunate enough to build a good team in the beginning with people having complementary strengths. It’s all sweat equity. We are in a unique position because we are full time students and we have made connections with investors ,relationships we are looking forward to foster but it is also apparent to me that investors are not going to fund people who are full time students and they have been honest with us,” said Hume.
Going forward, as a part of their future plan, BenchPals plans to hire a business person on board, continue working on the app and their labs and keep entering contests.