Stories of Impact


CLAUDIA JAFFE
Co-founder & Executive Vice President, Lumencor

Company: Lumencor
Year Founded: 2007
What They Do: Build lighting systems for biotech.
Vision: To advance this century’s best and most innovative analytical tools and diagnostic devices.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Always grappling with the next hurdle.

Lumencor is a biotech company that builds hardware for the life sciences. We build lighting systems to illuminate most of the tools that drive discovery, therapeutics, and research.

‘Lumen’ is light, and ‘Cor’ is heart. Light is at the heart of the equipment that we build for, and is 80% of all the equipment that drives biotech, whether it’s research, diagnostics, discovery or treatment. So ‘light’ being at the heart of those instruments is the right metaphor for our signature brand.

In my education and career as a scientist, it became obvious to me that the lighting demand for the equipment I was using wasn’t being met. My husband and I realized that we could offer something special, something tailored specifically for biotech.

We didn’t entertain the concept of failure. We were both in it. We were both invested, and we were going to make it work.

We ended up leaving the Bay Area, which is not a typical path. People typically migrate to the Bay Area, not away from it. We had two very young children who both had significant problems because they were very early preemies. We came to a new state where their pre-existing conditions weren’t covered by insurance. There were lots of personal challenges, but we didn’t entertain the concept of failure. We were both in it. We were both invested, and we were going to make it work.

It was the first time that I was starting a company, so that was also a significant challenge. I was grateful to find a wealth of experience at OEN, in terms of marketing, PR, finance, organizational structure, and all the things you need to grow a business. We got a lot of nice mentorship through OEN that was very helpful.

Through OEN, we created strong relationships with people who really helped us, if not directly, then indirectly find the connections we needed to grow our business.

OEN also helped us connect to important financial resources. The OEN investment community is very different from the Bay Area—it’s made up of networks of angels. It’s a unique model of investing where many investors contribute smaller amounts and make informed decisions as a group about which companies they’re going to invest in. We were well received and through OEN, created strong relationships with people who really helped us, if not directly, then indirectly find the connections we needed to grow our business.

The biggest challenge is probably also the biggest bonus, and that’s change. If you gravitate towards new things, being an entrepreneur is your ideal career. I’m the perpetual student, which is an ok place for me. There’s always the next hurdle. There’s always the next challenge in terms of what you can build to overcome a technical obstacle. Even though we’re celebrating our 10th year, I don’t feel we’ve arrived in any way. We still have to grow the company, we have to grow the products, we have to grow the performance. Otherwise, we’re going to lose a foothold that we’ve worked really, really hard to grow.

I think we’ve achieved a lot, but we’re not done.

 


Credits  Videography: Shanti Martin, Freedom Street Studios | Photography: Shanti Martin, Niya Christine, Edis Jurcys | Content & Design: David McLaughlin, Niya Christine 

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