By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2013, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
The best companies design a product or service with the market and end-users foremost in mind.
That may sound obvious, but it isn’t as intuitive as it seems — especially when a startup has amazing intellectual property, as so many of them do.
So when experienced early stage investors, like SeedStep Angels and i2E, meet a new company with a great technology that has built a solution from the outside in, we become interested, very interested.
Great Plains Microbiology of Oklahoma City is just such a company. We recently closed an oversubscribed Series A investment round of $755,000, including a record $400,000 commitment from SeedStep Angels.
Great Plains Microbiology has developed a highly reliable, less costly and more effective way to test for products for common pathogens (for example Salmonella, pathogenic E. coli strains, and Listeria) that cause bacterial infection leading to illness and even death.
The team at Great Plains, led by CEO Cyrus Zegrati, is building advanced food safety testing solutions from technology they developed for use in the clinical molecular diagnostics industry.
“We have a diverse, unique and world-class scientific and operational staff, all from here in Oklahoma,” Zegrati said. “We consulted and collaborated with professors from here and across the country, and relied heavily on input from the food companies that pay for testing. All of our research and development is geared toward making something people want and creating a better product than is out there right now.”
The firm’s high-quality tests are simple, rapid, and easy-to-use. They stand to save food producers a third or more over the cost of current tests and speed up the time to results to 24 hours or less. Great Plains is also committed to make safety testing affordable for small and organic local producers in Oklahoma with special reduced rates.
Even better, Great Plains is building a state-of-the art laboratory from the ground up in downtown Oklahoma City to serve local food processors.
The company is starting with five full-time equivalent positions and anticipates reaching about 30 employees in the first year of operation.
By January 2014, Oklahoma will be home to the most advanced food safety testing facility in the country — staffed by an unrivaled team of microbiologists, molecular biologists, operations professionals, and entrepreneurs.
If you ever question why startups are so vital to our state, here’s your answer. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
Did You Know? Every year 48 million people in the U.S., about one in six people, get sick from eating contaminated food. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention