We talked to Shuhan He, founder of ConductScience, about modern scientific products and services, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Shuhan He: I’m glad to report that my family has been relatively lucky, in that we have had no positive cases. Of course, this year has been tough anyway. I’ve spent plenty of time worrying about the health of myself and my family, particularly because of my job as an emergency physician. I am more likely than others to be exposed to COVID-19, so it is concerning to think about contracting the virus and passing it on to others. Naturally, the emergency department has been busier than usual over the last year. While this keeps me occupied, I do need to take plenty of precautions against burnout, fatigue, and of course, catching COVID-19.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded ConductScience.
Shuhan He: My regular job involves treating emergency patients, and that is extremely rewarding. However, I am also the founder of ConductScience. We are a company that creates and distributes scientific equipment to the wider scientific community. We make technology transfer tools for science. So, we’re a little like an ‘Etsy’ for science if you are looking for a comparison. We take research tools developed by some of the brightest minds in academia and give them a platform to distribute their developments to other scientists. This way, we hope that people can ‘conduct better science’.
As a scientist, I sometimes find myself frustrated at the lack of efficient equipment and tools available to help me achieve results. I would find myself spending the majority of my time creating tools, instead of actually running tests and processing data! Back in 2012 when I launched ConductScience, I made sure to build MazeEngineers into a strong catalog of scientific mazes for studies. This gave something to launch ConductScience with, and sure enough, our first few customers came about because they loved the mazes.
How does ConductScience innovate?
Shuhan He: As a company that distributes the latest and most efficient scientific equipment, we are always looking to innovate! Here’s a summary of the latest equipment we are developing:
- Virtual reality experimental equipment. Simian delivers virtual reality (VR) solutions for all kinds of scientific experiments. We can isolate variables ranging from time-based measurements to location. Our VR systems can come with a selection of environments.
- Automated housing and testing areas for rodents. ‘Labyrinth’ is one of the rodent mazes we are most proud of. Featuring three layers, adjustable inserts mean that the scientist can create 20+ different behavioral apparatuses with this maze. Complete with intelligent sensors and detection devices, the Labyrinth is breaking boundaries in the space of rodent testing.
- Tech transfer. ConductScience is always working to modernize science. Our tech transfer solution is a more flexible solution for scientists to be able to share their inventions and new equipment with other scientists. They will gain a royalty each time it is used. We steer clear of patents and another complex, time-consuming legalities that might have been common among the scientific community in the past.
How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your business and how are you coping?
Shuhan He: Again, I must say that I feel fortunate that ConductScience has not been affected too negatively. Sales have remained largely similar to their pre-pandemic levels, and the scientific community remains just as hungry for innovative equipment.
We are fully digital, which has helped us massively during the pandemic. Our team is completely remote and we have no office space. We also have no physical shop, which means we have been open for business the whole time. Overall, we are coping pretty well.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Shuhan He: When funding ConductScience, I had to make the decision to either grow with our own profits or seek independent funding. Fortunately, I chose to bootstrap the company. I feel this has helped us to grow much more organically than we ever could have done with outside investment. Bootstrapping means that we can never take things for granted and that we can work on things we completely believe in. We are not answering impatient, outside investors. I have learned that running the company this way keeps my feet on the ground and helps me in being a better manager for my team. After all, we would have no profits to grow with if my team was not fully motivated.
I often get people who are interested in buying the company, but for the moment I am rejecting these advances. I feel like I can continue growing ConductScience on my own and I am proud of the remote team we have cultivated. This is more than a business to me – I truly love the company.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and your company in the future?
Shuhan He: Physical activity is my number one response to this question. I make sure I hit the gym as often as possible (or work out at home/go for runs during the pandemic.) Running a business while working as an emergency physician means my life is bursting with stressors – I feel like I need physical activity to release all of those emotions. Similarly, I make sure I eat a balanced diet and get a restful night of sleep each night. As far as the future of ConductScience goes, we are currently projecting to keep growing year by year, and we have been accomplishing our goals so far. This is not very likely to change radically so we are very happy with our current vision and goals.
Apart from that, I hope to continue adding new subsidiaries to take ConductScience’s offerings to the next level. New scientific inventions are the name of the game!
And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Shuhan He: We plan to stay in the game by continuing to grow with our own profits and constantly reinvest. Our remote team of marketing gurus and podcast creators help me to make sure ConductScience can stay in the public eye better than I ever could do myself. Anyway, my view of competitors is that we lift each other up to new levels. We are all part of the wider scientific community and can take inspiration from each other. I never aim to take competitors down. Lastly, I am making sure that we place more focus than ever on customer care. Our scientific customers are key to our success – we need them to have faith in our equipment and apparatus.
Your final thoughts?
Shuhan He: I don’t wish to talk too much about myself here. I have outlined how I see ConductScience progressing into the future and I hope we will be able to sustain our growth despite these uncertain times. All I can say is that I wish for everyone to take care of themselves and their families. Stay active, healthy, and happy, and I hope you will be able to enjoy all the scientific innovations of years to come!
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