The company DSL, a specialist in molecular diagnostics, is currently being established in the city of Eriskirch close to Friedrichshafen, Germany. The future managing directors, Dr. Sabine Lautenschläger and Dr. Daniel Schaarschmidt, are being supported by the BioLAGO network and the pharmaceutical company Nycomed.
"We actually still need quite a few things, ranging from a homepage to business cards and rooms, before we are ready to start operations," said the company founder Dr. Sabine Lautenschläger who, along with her partner Dr. Daniel Schaarschmidt, is planning to offer routine diagnostics services using molecular biology methods from autumn 2009. The two company founders plan to offer gene tests for animals and humans as well as for the detection of microorganisms. They also want to develop individual PCR tests and offer training and support to clients who are active in the field of PCR, molecular biology and biotechnology. But before they can do all this, Lautenschläger and Schaarschmidt still have a lot of work ahead of them. At present, they are in the pre-phase of planning and organisation.
Lautenschläger and Schaarschmidt have received direct and indirect support through the life sciences community and its players around Lake Constance. The "Bodensee Finanzforum" (Lake Constance Finance Forum) was an important impulse for putting in place the economic structure of the new laboratory. "What we already have in place is some financing. Immediately after our first discussion at the Finance Forum, we decided to go for the three f's - friends, fools and family," said Dr. Sabine Lautenschläger who, together with Schaarschmidt, is trying to purchase the equipment required to set up the laboratory as cheaply as possible, by using second-hand equipment or gifts. "We are doing everything we can to avoid bank loans and try to finance the whole thing ourselves," said Dr. Daniel Schaarschmidt explaining the founders' strategy.
The company founders have received support in terms of technical equipment through one of the largest life sciences companies in the Lake Constance area, Nycomed GmbH, a contact initiated by the BioLAGO association. The DSL founders have received numerous devices from Nycomed’s laboratory inventory of items that are no longer used, for example a tabletop centrifuge, pipettes, shakers and a pair of scales. “The cost savings through such gifts amount to a small fortune,” said Dr. Daniel Schaarschmidt, happy with what they have achieved.The two partners have chosen not to divide the different tasks associated with the establishment between them. “No, we do everything together,” highlighted Dr. Sabine Lautenschläger, who is currently working very hard to acquire the necessary business know-how and the knowledge required to ensure that the services offered are commercially successful. “I recently participated in a course on entrepreneurship run by the Ulm Chamber of Commerce and Industry,” said Lautenschläger. This course focused on the preparation of business plans and on topics such as financing, accounting and general organisation.
Dr. Sabine Lautenschläger has dreamt of setting up her own company for quite some time. The chemist, who, amongst other jobs, used to work at the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Verona (Italy), explains that she has always dreamt of standing on her own two feet and having as much independence as possible, but she always lacked the courage to take the first step. "That's the reason why I went for a halfway house over the last ten years. I established a PCR laboratory on behalf of a company, which I ran on a profit-sharing basis," said Dr. Sabine Lautenschläger adding that "the laboratory was very efficient and was already in the black in the first year following establishment". During this time, she developed own PCR reaction technologies, amongst other things. Looking back, the chemist slightly regrets not having set up her own company earlier. "With the experience I now have, I would choose to set up my own company, rather than using my energy to develop a laboratory for other people," said Lautenschläger.
Dr. Sabine Lautenschläger said that what motivated her was her postdoctoral period at Yale University and the huge developmental need in the field of laboratory diagnostics. She plans to use the knowledge gained during the establishment of DSL for the services that she will offer in future. "One of the services we will be offering is consulting and support in the establishment and management of a PCR laboratory for medical diagnostics," said the chemist.
Dr. Sabine Lautenschläger is satisfied when she looks back on the first steps of company foundation. "So far, basically everything has gone very smoothly. However, I am sure that there are bigger challenges in store when it comes to acquiring clients. I understand that this is the most difficult part of establishing one's own company. She was also very surprised about the positive attitude of her family once she had taken the decision to set up her own company. "This is a very important aspect, because the family will be affected and has to support the strategy: less money (hopefully only at the beginning), less time for the household and fewer holidays," said Lautenschläger.
DSLDr. Sabine LautenschlägerTel.: +49 (0)7541 82841E-mail: lautenschlaeger(at)dsl-labor.comDr. Daniel SchaarschmidtE-mail: schaarschmidt(at)dsl-labor.com