Today marks a big day. After six years quietly and methodically building Albert, we are officially emerging from stealth mode. It might seem strange to announce this, given that we already have thousands of users across the globe, but we’ve been heads down, working like scientists. Nick Talken, CEO and Co-Founder, shares our story.
In our efforts to make the industry’s long-promised “lab of the future” accessible right now, I realized how few people know just how Albert Invent started—as well as how we have been able to accomplish so much while flying largely under the radar.
Albert Announces Funding
Nick Talken, CEO, with his fellow co-founders. (From left to right) Zack Kisner, Head of Product; Neelesh Vaikhary, CTO; Ken Kisner, CFO; Nick Talken, CEO.
It all started in a little neighborhood in the San Francisco Bay Area, on the border of Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda, a place affectionately referred to as Lamorinda.
My fellow co-founder, Ken Kisner, has always been a scientist. He actually grew up inside a paint factory– but that’s a story for another time… When I met Ken, he was actually starting his third company– in a trailer, in his backyard, which just happened to be down the street from the house I grew up in. As a chemist and engineer by education, I was intrigued by what Ken could be doing in the 20’ trailer lab, so one day I walked up, knocked on the door, and we had a conversation that would change not only our career trajectories but how we believe scientists will interact with technology in the 21st century.
Aside: in case you were wondering, Ken was reinventing 3D printing with the goal to make materials which could be used across production applications in the medical, dental and industrial space. I loved what Ken was doing; in fact, I loved it so much that I quit my job at a Silicon Valley tech company and joined him.
Where Albert Invent Fits In
While building the 3D printing company, there were certain elements of lab life that were outright painful, and they didn’t have to be. Tools and processes were incredibly outdated, slowing us down, and lacked the options we wanted. So, Ken and I reluctantly decided we would build the modern tools we needed to best serve the business. Software development certainly wasn’t part of the original business plan, but we viewed it as a necessity– and we knew we were not alone in experiencing such frustration.
You see, Ken had a profound vision, even a decade ago, about how he thought the chemical industry should work. Instead of spending years inventing a product, with incremental changes along the way– which is how most physical products are created– he asked the essential question: how do we better use data in product development?
Together, we posited that if we could create a data-driven organization, we could invent things faster, serve customers better and help make the world a more sustainable place. The paper notebooks and Excel files many scientists rely on had to go.
So, we pulled in some of the best engineering, design and data science folks we knew (Albert Invent co-founders Neelesh and Zack) to build a software platform specifically for scientists like us. The result was so compelling that it became an integral part of the business, which we grew to become one of the largest producers of SLA/DLP photopolymers (we eventually sold the business to Henkel in 2019). Henkel valued the Albert platform so much, they dedicated resources to help us grow it and later spin it out as a completely separate entity. As the world’s leading producers of adhesives, sealants and functional coatings, Henkel remains one of Albert Invent’s largest customers today.
Ken, Neelesh, Zack and I understand that for scientists to want to use Albert, it must fundamentally improve how they work, and the user experience also must be compelling. Incremental change isn’t enough incentive to alter how lab work has always been done. To change behaviors, you must provide a new solution that is 10x better than the status quo and for that reason, innovation is core to the platform.
We’ve persistently added features, capabilities, integrations and apps to expedite the product development journey. This in turn benefits all stakeholders within organizations, their customers and suppliers, and the industry at large– all while making the lab a smarter, safer, more efficient place.
For example, AI/ML has become a critical part of Albert and as part of our Albert Insights, we enable scientists to predict outcomes and simulate experiments. Albert also helps scientists choose the best materials for their needs with meaningful data on more than 50,000 raw materials and industry standards right at their fingertips. And our large language models (LLMs) distill volumes of information into actionable bits so that teams can move faster and with precision. In short, Albert Insights provides everything scientists need to know to make decisions across every stage of the innovation process.
Because Albert is a data-driven platform, our customers can deliver products 2x faster at tremendous cost savings– that’s according to actual customer results, not just our internal projections. This underscores that we’re doing something necessary, and we’re doing it well. Albert is truly an end-to-end R&D platform.
The Next Phase
Albert’s value proposition resonates. Our customer base is growing rapidly– both in the U.S., Europe and globally. Albert is making contributions in some of the chemistry and materials science industry’s most important labs. We’re also working with upstarts seeking to build great things for a better future. In addition, we have a deep pipeline of companies just starting to discover how Albert can help them digitally transform, innovate faster and become more competitive. We look forward to onboarding them to the Albert platform.
To help us grow, I am excited to share that we’ve raised $7.5 million in Seed funding from some world-class investors. Index Ventures led the round and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with them to accelerate the growth of the business. Homebrew, F-Prime Capital and several prominent angels also participated, further validating our mission.
So what are we planning to do with the money? We’re going to invest even more into product development and expanding our Data Science team, to continue evolving and refining our platform in really exciting ways. We’ll also be announcing several key partnerships. This includes strategic industry alliances as well as technology integrations, all designed to help Albert do more for scientists.
We’re also going to keep hiring. It’s hard to believe that Albert Invent is already over 65 people strong, though we know we need even more talent to support our commitment to continuously expanding the value of our platform, along with providing world-class customer service.
If you want to take part in our digital transformation of the lab– as a customer, partner or team member– get in touch. We’d love to have a chat.
And if you’re wondering what happened to the trailer where Albert Invent began, it has been passed on to the next generation of founders trying to bring their own vision to life. It seems only fitting.