Acenna: The Tufts University Startup That is Revolutionizing the Life Science Industry
There are many difficulties in the world of business, but there is one colossal dilemma that continues to hinder all companies: data. Data can be found in all facets of business and is crucial on all levels. One industry in particular, though, has an immense problem with data: Life Science. This industry is roughly a 10 trillion dollar industry worldwide and is accompanied by insane amounts of data. The inability to manage and analyze this data prohibits businesses from optimizing their productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness as it pertains to their target population.
Acenna, an RDV-backed startup out of Tufts University, aims to reduce the complexities of data collection and analysis through the use of artificial intelligence and augmentation software. The best part? Acenna creates company profiles to ensure that all components are completely personalized and that the program functions based solely on the needs of the specific business. The implementation of Artificial Intelligence on the research and internal data of these companies assists in providing a better customer experience whilst subsequently increasing revenue.
“They (sales representatives) waste valuable sales time digging through data to find what they need. At worst, they just avoid the system altogether. Reps can’t get the information they need to talk to the right customers at the right time.” -Ian Leaman, CPO of Acenna
Acenna was founded by Ian Leaman, Ethan Kopit, and Jon Arbaugh at Tufts University. The three met during their freshman year, each bringing different knowledge and experience to the business. They came together junior year after Ian came up with the idea for Acenna. Ethan majored in Political Science and interned at Sqrrl, a business development & cybersecurity company. He provides the business and marketing experience, managing the customer-based aspects of the business. Jon and Ian, both computer science majors, gained experience with software engineering at John Hopkins APL and Microsoft, respectively. The collaboration of these three Tufts University graduates developed into an extremely successful startup with a complete and stable platform.
“We’re basically building a Life Science sales productivity tool that uses machine learning to help Life Science sales teams have more meaningful conversations with their most qualified potential customers. We’re making it a little easier to be a better Life Science salesperson, more consistently.” – Ethan Kopit, CCO of Acenna
Acenna actually began at Tufts University under the name Mimir Insights. They collaborated with a number of professors at the University to gain knowledge in entrepreneurship, as well as marketing, sales, and finance. They then worked with Tufts Venture Labs, a small accelerator named on the list of the Best College Startup Coworking Spaces in Boston, sitting alongside accelerators from Harvard and MIT. The goal of Tufts Venture Lab is “to foster a yearlong entrepreneurial community that catalyzes the trajectories of student- and faculty-led companies by providing these startups with a communal working space, resources, and mentorship” (Tufts Maker Network). Tufts Venture Labs gave Acenna the ability to work alongside other incredible startups, entrepreneurs, and gave them the opportunity to consult professors and other influencers to conceptualize their ideas and formulate them into a successful business.
Once Acenna had established themselves as a legitimate startup, they competed in the Tufts 100k competition in 2016. Competing against all of the best potential businesses at Tufts University, Acenna took 1st place, granting them $20,000 to help them start their business. Since then, Acenna Data has continued to grow and impact the Life Science industry. They were MassChallenge finalists in 2017, only increasing their presence and recognition of their potential to change the industry completely.
This Untold College Spotlight story shows how a company discovered a consistently detrimental component of a business in a specific industry and created an easy-to-implement solution to fix it. Acenna acknowledged the data problems in the world of business, and took on the industry in which that problem was most harmful. The Life Science industry struggles with data on all scales, and Acenna offers a solution that not only benefits the life science businesses but also increases the customer’s experience with the company.
The world is filled with problems nobody wants to fix. If you find a problem that has consistently affected a business and you have a solution, go for it! Fixing even the smallest issues can be extremely beneficial, so if you can develop any way to increase the efficiency and productivity of a company, they will recognize what you have to offer and how you can contribute to the success of their business!