Techstars Companies visit Rochester Entrepreneurial Community for Techstars++ Partnership. Part One: Nebulab.

Last week, three emerging startups from around the globe visited Rochester to participate in the Techstars++, a collaboration between the international Techstars accelerator program and Mayo Clinic.  These healthcare and biotech focused companies spent one week colliding with medical professionals and members of the Rochester entrepreneurial community to forge connections and drive the growth of their companies.

All three startups graduated from an intensive, three month Techstars accelerator program somewhere in the world within the last year.  The group was particularly diverse, each looking at a solution for healthcare and science through a different lens.

We in the Rochester entrepreneurial community had a fantastic, productive time interfacing with these teams. 

Did you miss meeting these healthcare innovators?  Here’s what you need to know.


Company: Nebulab.

Based in: San Antonio, TX.

Techstars accelerator: Techstars Cloud, Class of 2015 (San Antonio).

Tagline: Your research is complicated- managing it shouldn’t be.


The Problem:

Nebulab wants researchers to never lose their data again.  CEO Guillermo Vela came from the world of brain cancer and stem cell research.  At times, he found it extremely difficult to navigate through and find information within his own data.  The problem was further exacerbated if he had to sift through someone else’s data, especially if this person had already left the lab.  From my own lab experience, this process involves paging through tons of paper lab notebooks, trying to decipher often incomplete chicken scratch.  Sometimes said chicken scratch wasn’t even in a language I could read.

“It’s easier for me to just redo the experiment than try to find that data.  So it becomes incredibly inefficient and there’s so much data that’s lost,” Guillermo explained.


The Solution:

Guillermo and his cofounders are creating a process to digitally organize and enrich data.  They developed an online platform, called Nebulab, that layers over data storage tools that researchers are already using like Dropbox and Google Drive.  Researchers can use Nebulab as an interface to upload data and files to these storage destinations.  However, Nebulab actually enriches and adds context to these files, allowing researchers to never lose data or information about that data again.

What times of context or enrichments can be made to the data using Nebulab?

With Nebulab, users can add custom tags to files such as immunofluorescent images to categorize the data.  Product sheets for antibodies used in the image can also be linked to the file to enable streamlined re-ordering.  Say you have a graph constructed for the final figure in a publication.  You can link all the raw data sets right to the final graph so you no longer question which experiments contributed to that final image. 

Nebulab also interconnects documents.

“If I were to share this file, it comes bundled together.  Now I’m sharing the file along with the metadata.  And then if a collaborator comes on, they’ll be able to leave notes on the files.  Everything’s linked together,” explained Guillermo.

To use Nebulab, researchers just need to visit the Nebulab website and create an account.  Then, users can organize data and files into notebooks with names and descriptives through Nebulab right to their cloud storage platform of choice.  Even if you stop using Nebulab, the data remains in the cloud.  You always retain control of your data.  The Nebulab contextual enrichments make the files highly searchable, a huge leap from paging through stained lab notebooks.  Data can be located by file name, key words within comments, or user-added tags.

Nebulab is free to individual researchers.  The team aims to make custom back-end modifications, such as specialized security and firewall settings, and sell the Nebulab system directly to research institutions.


What the team hoped to get out of their one week in Rochester:

“I think that when dealing with institutions, the most you can hope for within a week is really just to find your champions, make the connections, meet the people that you’ll need to work with moving forward.  And that’s really what we’ve been seeing so far.  There’s great people within Mayo Clinic and within the Rochester community that have been very helpful,” said Guillermo.


“We’re big fans of collaborating and working with other entrepreneurs and biotech startups.  And if there’s any way we can help them as Nebulab or as people, we all have to stick up for each other.  We’re happy to connect with anyone that wants to reach out to us.”


Part Two: LiquidLandscape

Part Three: Solenica