Transforming customer journeys, one step at a time: An interview with Mike Chen, CEO of ACROBiosystems

December 23, 2022 - 6 minutes
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Customer journeys are very individual as each customer has different needs, and each manufacturer has its own philosophy regarding product development. To ACROBiosystems, bridging the gap between customer and manufacturer through understanding customer needs and providing high-quality products is the first step toward developing a life-long partnership. 

ACROBiosystems set off 12 years ago to become a ‘cornerstone’ of the pharma and biotech industry, helping companies accelerate their projects from bench to bedside. We talked to Mike Chen, CEO and founder, about his vision of what customer journeys should be like and how ACROBiosystems works towards transforming them. 

What did you envision ACROBiosystems to be when you founded it back in 2010?

Working as a scientist at Invitrogen –now part of ThermoFisher– I was a part of the development team working on cell culture applications. This placed me in a unique position: developing products while considering their application. At this time, I began to see the divide between manufacturer and customer. For manufacturers, the focus was to have the newest products available. Customers, on the other hand, were concerned about whether the product was a good fit, always asking our support team ‘Would this product work for my needs?’ This stark contrast in objectives underscored the systemic rift between manufacturer and customer philosophies.

At the time, to me, starting a company was just a passing thought. However, the more I interacted with customers, the more I began to think ‘maybe I should.’ I became motivated, even driven, by the idea that with ACROBiosystems, I could change the way we approach customer journeys and transform them for the better.

This notion came to fruition after being inspired by one scientist, who is a well-known expert in the NGS field in recent years doing business as a scientific service provider.


 

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Mike Chen, Founder and CEO of ACROBiosystems
Mike Chen, Founder and CEO of ACROBiosystems Group

What is a typical customer journey with ACROBiosystems?

One of our core values is understanding our customers’ needs. One of our first customers came to us looking for a high-purity CD19 protein preparation. Whereas other manufacturers only offered the CD19 protein, we contacted him to discuss his needs. Eventually, we were able to provide him with a free sample, in-depth data evaluations, and several protocols, including bioactivity and protein binding. Not only was he able to finish his studies faster, but he also told us that he felt more comfortable that our product would fit his needs. For all these years, he still regularly comes back to us, now working with different companies, to purchase our products. 

Inspired by this success, we continued to build upon our version of a customer journey. We started to allow our customers to connect and discuss with our product scientists. We hope to give each of them a unique journey and ensure that our products perfectly fit their needs.

customer journeys, partnership, ACROBiosystems

How have your current projects further promoted the customer journey at ACROBiosystems?

Our primary focus on bridging the gap between manufacturer and customer has led us to offer various products that serve the entire therapeutic drug development lifecycle. 

Back in 2017, we received our first customer request for a multi-pass, full-length transmembrane protein, CD20, which our customer reported was difficult to obtain. This request initiated a project to help tackle the challenges in developing multi-pass transmembrane proteins and kick-started our Full-length Active Gallery (FLAG) platform that offers more than ten different proteins optimized for various applications. Despite the residual challenges in scale-up manufacturing and delivery, we always ensure that our customers obtain the optimal tools and support needed for their research. 

Our offering also includes tools for COVID-19 vaccine research. We consider it our societal responsibility to help fight the disease wherever we can. Despite our already-full product pipeline, we immediately shifted our R+D capacities to quickly assist our clients with delivering high-quality research tools. Our keystone achievement was getting the Omicron antigen ready for use within 10 days of its first identification and the corresponding mutant-specific antibody in less than 2 months. 

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This year, a significant achievement was upgrading our quality management system and achieving GMP validation for our ex vivo cell manufacturing products. Now, we can continue to partner with our customers throughout their drug development lifecycle, from drug discovery to clinical phases and commercialization.

Our latest addition is bioSeedin, a partnering platform located in Boston, US. bioSeedin offers opportunities for biotech companies to highlight their product pipeline and for pharma companies to find new assets for in-licensing or acquisition. We also organize events where potential business partners and our customers can meet in person, providing new avenues for the customer journey to take. 

customer journeys, partnership, ACROBiosystems

How are you bringing your vision of customer journeys to Europe?

Our vision is to ensure that the customer journey is the same no matter whether you live in the U.S., China, or Europe. Customers worldwide are always eager to share their needs and applications – we just need to listen. To alleviate logistical issues, we expanded our business to Europe last year, setting up subsidiaries in Switzerland, Germany, and the U.K., with dedicated on-site teams and a warehouse in Basel to cut delivery times to three days or less. 

Moving forward, our goal is to become a truly global company with product development, production, warehouses, and customer support in all regions… Starting from recombinant proteins, antibodies, and test kits, ACROBiosystems aims to create an ecosystem of life sciences tools, reagents, and instruments. We partner with research institutions and startups to commercialize novel technologies that may be ready for use today or up to 3-5 years of development. We give our partners global access to our current customer base of over 7000 pharmaceuticals, CRO/CDMO, research institutions, and hospitals across 70 countries.

What would be your recommendation for other companies looking to shape their customer journeys? 

We believe that the relationship between manufacturers and customers should become more personal. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes, take that extra step, and find out how you can help them find the optimal solution. 

Of course, it can take time to gain trust and build a partnership. But my experience of 12 years with ACROBiosystems has shown that it is genuinely worthwhile, and our customers appreciate what we do.

Find out more about how the ACROBiosystems Group partners with pharma and biotech to accelerate drug development from bench to bedside.

Images courtesy of ACROBiosystems. 

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