Key Progress: Prototype -> Production
How It Works
We want to make this essential technology available to everyone, including doctors in developing countries, students in high school and university labs, companies in the food supply chain, and biohackers who are developing some of the most innovative synthetic biology applications.
Over the past two years, we've designed and prototyped an open-source instrument that can perform the above mentioned tests, but costs less than a tenth the cost of other commercially available systems. Now, we're ready to share it with the world and see what others can do with it.
We focused on making the software as user-friendly as possible. While there's powerful functionality available for scientists, the machine also interprets the data and presents clear positive/negative results to end users.
- Discover what your genes say about your athletic abilities.
- Genotype hereditary traits, such as BRCA variants linked to breast cancer.
- Selectively breed animals based on desired genotypes.
- Identify E. coli, Listeria, or Salmonella in food supplies.
- Monitor water quality by testing for pathogens and indicator microbes.
- Detect horse meat in your hamburger or dolphin meat in tuna.
- Analyze the level of gene expression in cells.
- Get immediate feedback on whether your PCR worked without the need to run gels.
- Engineer biological systems by manipulating and re-arranging DNA.
- Detect viruses such as HIV and Ebola.
- Test insect vectors for diseases such as Malaria or West Nile Virus.
Risks and Future Challenges
1. Unproven Marketing and Sales Channel
Chai successfully sold $200k of machines on Kickstarter and another $300k online with zero marketing. It’s uncertain they can ramp up sales beyond early adopters. Can they figure out how to actually sell the machine and their consumable kits and translate early demand into huge market demand?
2. Market Risk
PCR DNA testing has been around for 21 years. Can Chai replace such entrenched methods for huge bureaucracies like universities and hospitals? Also, the new markets they’re creating are completely untested - outside some initial interest we’re assuming brewers, public health workers, farmers, and veterinarians will actually use their own PCR machine.
3. Founder’s First Company
First time founders are always a question mark. Josh is obviously a brilliant biohacker and hardware designer but can he take Chai from a few hundred sales to a multi billion dollar biotech company?