Quartzy Opens Second Distribution Warehouse, Expanding Options To Serve Software Customers

July 19, 2018

By Allison Proffitt

July 19, 2018 | Quartzy, a free online laboratory supply management and ordering platform, has expanded distribution operations with a new one million cubit foot warehouse in Hayward, California, and grown its lab supply portfolio to over three million SKUs.

The company, founded in 2011, has raised more than $22M from Khosla Ventures, Eminence Capital, Y Combinator and others for its inventory management and order request software systems. The company launched its product catalog of over two million lab supplies from over 600 manufacturers in February of this year based out of its first warehouse in Redwood City, Calif. The company says it serves 160,000 scientists across 13,000 labs in the United States.

Quartzy is a “twenty-first century digital distributor for the life sciences,” Jayant Kulkarni, Quartzy’s CEO & co-founder, tells Bio-IT World. Quartzy Shop, the eCommerce platform, offers lab supplies for the life sciences, but the data science happens in the Quartzy software, he says. “The software is completely free to use; we make money when labs buy their supplies from us,” Kulkarni says. “We don’t charge for the software; we monetize the transaction.”

Since the start of the year, the company has grown its supplier partnerships and authorized distributor agreements. Quartzy works with 100 different life science supply companies now through direct distribution agreements, and Kulkarni says the company hopes to reach 500 vendors over the next 24 months. The company can provide product through more than 1,000 other vendors through distributor organizations. More partnerships have allowed Quartzy to offer the most diverse digital product catalog in the nation, the company believes, which has attracted thousands of labs looking to consolidate their procurement efforts and optimize their supply chains.

All of that product needs to sit somewhere. The new one million cubit foot warehouse is Quartzy’s second fulfillment center, both in California. The company hopes to announce two more warehouses across the country in the next 18 months, Kulkarni explains, to be able to reach any customer within two days.

Quartzy’s goal is to enable labs to consolidate their purchasing activity and achieve greater efficiency in their day to day operations. That’s possible, Kulkarni explains, because “we use data and software to guide our processes at every step.”

The real Quartzy product, he says, is the company’s free software.

“The software has tremendous value to a lab,” Kulkarni says. “The software has two features. One is an inventory management module so a lab knows what they have in stock. The second piece is the request module, which is a shared shopping list for the lab. When lab members are running low on supplies, they can submit a request to a lab manager through the request module. The inventory management module is what the lab has in stock; the request module helps the lab figure out what to buy next.”

It’s these software modules that solicit the rave reviews from Quartzy customers.

Johnny Farnen, laboratory lead technician at Bellevue University in Nebraska, said the college was using a combination of outdated Excel spreadsheets, a “wall of Post-It notes”, emails, and four cabinets of paperwork dating back 30 years before he found Quartzy and started using the free software. Farnen credits the software with $10,000 saved from hazardous materials compliance and equipment maintenance and $4,800 saved on consumable supplies in one month. Farnen has gone from spending 20 hours per week ordering supplies to just 2 hours a week using Quartzy, he says.

Sarah Hein, Director of Development at Courier Therapeutics, an immunotherapy startup with the support of Johnson & Johnson’s JLABS, had used Quartzy as a graduate student. When she joined Courier, she implemented the Quartzy software to keep tabs on what supplies and reagents teams were ordering for their research. “When you are troubleshooting why an experiment has not performed as expected, you need to examine all of the various components, and knowing that because we order through the technology platform, the reagents are the exact same, allows us to eliminate that factor so we can instead examine the processes,” she told Quartzy.

Lab Operations Manager for Holistic Industries’ Maryland facility, Mallory Paul, had also used Quartzy in a previous position. At Holistic Industries, she estimates that her lab saves 20-30 hours of work each month; she says the company has saved thousands of dollars since they went live with Quartzy by being able to compare prices, reducing what they’d normally pay for products by nearly 25%.

In every case, Quartzy software streamlines communications between the scientists and the lab manager, Kulkarni says. “It keeps everyone on the same page.”

Most of the published Quartzy case studies are startups or academic labs. And the company has invested specifically in California life sciences accelerators. The company has signed agreements with IndieBio, BioBuilt, and Lab Launch to offer startups within the accelerators free Quartzy memberships as well as perks specifically for startups.

But Kulkarni insists that the software is flexible. “The software has evolved over the last several years to meet the needs of all labs, from the smallest academic labs to large, publicly-traded biopharma,” he says, explaining that the customer base is currently about 50% academic and 50% non-academic.

The software modules that are big selling points to lab managers also provide reams of data to Quartzy as it forecasts what supplies its customers are shopping for and which ones it should seek to stock.

For instance, based on data mined from request modules, Quartzy is planning to add more chemicals and reagents to its catalogue within the next 12 months, Kulkarni said. The new fulfillment center will give the company more flexibility to stock and sell a wider variety of specialized chemicals and reagents.