Originally posted September 10, 2014, by Kelly Kearsley on startupbend.com

The #50startups project kicks off now with Amplion Research. (Heads up: We’re about to get all science-y. It’s good for you). The Bend-based software startup aggregates biomarker data and then makes it easier for drug, diagnostic and life sciences companies to find the information they need to make strategic decisions.

The small team is led by John Audette, a veteran entrepreneur and the previous CEO of Eugene-based MitoSciences, which was acquired by a British company in 2011. His partner in crime, Adam Carroll, comes from Bend Research, where he was a senior research biologist and then director.

They’re earning money. They’ve raised some more. They’re working with some well-known customers. And they’re just getting started.

BT had the opportunity recently to chat with Audette. Here’s what you need to know:

Amplion Research
 John Audette and Adam Carroll
Started: February 2013
Employees: 3
Cardboard Yoda: 1
Headquarters: Bend

What do you do? We provide software that helps pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies make strategic decisions about how to run their clinical trials or create their products. The core of our product is BiomarkerBase, which is a knowledge base that includes every validated biomarker in clinical use, and more than 2,000 emerging biomarkers in clinical trials.Most software companies in our industry focus on providing tons of data, but we focus on providing easy access to the most critical data, by removing the clutter and emphasizing user experience.

So you are like the _____ for/of _____? (ex: Yelp for prisons, Uber for tacos): We are like Kayak for biomarkers.

What inspired your company? I was previously the CEO for six years at a biotech company based in Eugene called MitoSciences, and we did a lot of work helping to plan clinical trials and develop new products.  Trying to make use of public sources of information to make our strategic decisions was a constant challenge for us, so I am in some respects the prototypical first customer.  After we sold MitoSciences in 2011 I stuck around for a year to help with the integration, but had an itch to start something new.  I cobbled together a basic first version of the knowledge base on my own and got a few people to pay for access, which was enough to convince my co-founder Adam Carroll to leave his job at Bend Research and go all-in with Amplion (along with some prodding from a mentor of his to try something entrepreneurial).

How’s business? We have a first version of our software product on the market and we’re now in the process of building out a significantly enhanced version. We have some early adopter companies — including multiple leading diagnostics and drug companies — who have all recently renewed their licenses after their first year of pilot access. Along with our product development push we are also making a big sales and marketing push starting Q3 of this year. We’ll probably end up doing about $150,000 in revenue this year, and we expect to be at $500,000 next year. We’re aiming to be a $20 million company within five years.

Have you raised any money? We bootstrapped the first prototype, which then got some quick traction in the market. Seven Peaks Ventures was our first investor, and we are in the midst of closing out a seed round that includes other local angel investors as well. We expect to complete a Series A round Q1/Q2 of next year.

What have you learned? For us, part of the learning process has been learning how to tell our story, especially to potential investors. The life science aspect is almost secondary. We realized we have more in common with a traditional data aggregator, and when we explain our business that way, that’s something people can identify with more.

Adam Carroll, John Audette, Yoda, and Chris Kraybill of Amplion Research.

Adam Carroll, John Audette, Yoda, and Chris Kraybill of Amplion Research.


What’s next? The next six months is all about the product. We just brought on board Chris Kraybill (former CTO of G5) as a partner and as our CTO. That was a game changer for us. We also plan to hire a data scientist and a sales person in the near future.

Random facts to blow people’s minds: Adam helped develop the algorithm used in the Nike Fuel Band. John has sold not one, but two, businesses to companies in London.  

Next up in #50startups … 

Have you ever been lost in the wilderness or out on the roads and had the horrible realization that no one knows where you are or when you’re supposed to be back? Ubimodo, a Bend startup, is working an app that initiates a series of planned responses for just such scenarios.