February 14, 2014      

VentureWire reports that Transcriptic Inc. has raised $2.8 million to use robotics to help life sciences researchers be more productive. Transcriptic clones DNA, purifies proteins, and performs other services for customers in its Menlo Park, Calif., lab.

Instead of performing them by hand, as scientists normally do, Transcriptic uses robots. With fewer rote tasks, academic and commercial researchers can spend more time reading scientific literature, designing experiments, and doing other jobs that require their particular expertise.

In 2012, as a startup biotech company, Transcriptic raised $1.2 million in a seed funding round from a wide group of investors led by Google Ventures and FF Angel (Founders Fund’s seed stage arm), and private investors Mark Cuban and Naval Ravikant. Notably, more than 60 accredited investors contributed $150,000 through a partnership between investment platforms AngelList and SecondMarket, which Transcriptic says makes it the first company to raise a significant equity round online.

Max Hodak, Transcriptic’s founder, said he had created an AngelList profile but left it dormant until his company gained funding momentum from Cuban, Google Ventures and FF Angel. AngelList founder Ravikant also pitched the benefits of the platform to Hodak.

“I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try casting a wider net,” Max Hodak, Transcriptic’s founder used the 2012 funding round to help build its robotic research lab in Menlo Park. Transcriptic spent the next year adding capabilities and proving that DNA cloning, for instance, can be done for a fraction of the cost of what most people in the life science industry think is reasonable.

Transcriptic develops “next-generation lab automaton and virtualization technology”–in other words, tools that allow scientists to perform biology research from their laptops, sparing them tedious tasks that usually require expensive equipment and hours of painstaking work. As the Transcriptic website boldly proclaims: “Let our robots do your science.”