Gajus Worthington on the early days of Fluidigm

Recently I ran across this Stanford video of Gajus Worthington, co-founder and CEO of Fluidigm. Recorded in 2004, it’s a behind-the-scenes snapshot of the early years of the company, after they’d launched their first products (in protein crystallization) in 2003. Over the past decade Fluidigm has gone from fundraising to becoming a public company with a 2010 revenue of $33.6 million.

One quote grabbed me:

“We did this wrong, if you read the textbooks. You’re supposed to figure out what the market opportunity is, then you’re supposed to go out and find technology, and build a team, and all that kind of stuff.  Right. We didn’t do it that way.

We did it, classically, the way you’re not supposed to, which is you find a technology, you get obsessed with it, and you go running around trying to figure out what can I do with it. Well I submit to you that that’s the way most technology companies work.

That’s the way it worked with the laser, that’s the way with lots of other components. You have some kind of technology, you get a bunch of smart people who are obsessed with it.  And ultimately they find something useful they can do with it. It’d be nice to do it the other way, but unfortunately I really don’t know of any examples where that has transpired. ” — Gajus Worthington, CEO of Fluidigm

I tried thinking of biomedical technology companies that started with a market opportunity first, and then developed solutions. I couldn’t come up with any in the microfluidics space. (Although it is hard to know the backstory behind how companies match product and market.)  Do you have any examples of a team starting with a problem, evaluating a range of solutions (microfluidic and non-microfluidic), choosing to go with microfluidics, and then building a microfluidics team?

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