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Friday, June 21, 2024

Meet Sajith Wickramasekara who built $6B firm for life science researchers

Sajith Wickramasekara established a software startup to assist life science researchers in better organising their lab work.The company, called lBenchling, is now worth $6 billion.

Sajith Wickramasekara stepped out of MIT’s Computer Science school ten years ago to start something new: a software startup that helps life science researchers organise their lab work. Benchling is now known as the “Google Docs for R&D,” serving over 200,000 researchers from 700 firms. However, that value proposition was less obvious in 2012.

Benchling got its start when software investors weren’t clamouring to fund cloud-based digital notebooks and, even more so, weren’t familiar with biotech’s issue spaces. This made the early days exceptionally difficult, but it finally spurred Wickramasekara and co-founder Ashu Singhal to focus on engineering and product development.

Wickramasekara’s hard effort was not in vain; he knew there was something there. He spent his free time in high school and college working in research labs. And, over time, he had grown increasingly concerned about how heavily the R&D business relied on pens and paper.

While most investors didn’t understand what Benchling was trying to solve or how huge of an opportunity it may be, Y Combinator’s Paul Graham did and was the first to back the firm.

What happened after that is history. Benchling has already secured over $400 million from investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Menlo Ventures, and Altimeter Capital, and is now valued at more than $6 billion in its most recent round of funding.


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