Serial entrepreneur and school trustee Dave Mandelkern’s next move is to expand his latest venture this year.
Mandelkern, a trustee for the San Mateo County Community College District since 2003, has been an entrepreneur for more than 30 years. His newest biotech startup, Maverix Biomics, provides a platform and analytics tools for researchers to easily access, share and analyze their research. Customers can log on to the website, upload their DNA sequencing data, access public databases to add context, analyze the data with algorithms and visualize the data automatically.
This year, he’s moving his office to a bigger location in San Mateo and approximately doubling the staff by the end of the year.
“It’s called Maverix because it’s like surfing big waves of data,” said Mandelkern, who is president and CEO of the startup. “We were watching the Super Bowl at the time [we came up with the name].”
He altered the spelling of the surf competition Mavericks for his company name since it’s already copyrighted. The other surfing connection has to do with the fact that some company employees have connections to University of California at Santa Cruz, a surf town itself.
Aside from the surf metaphor, Maverix, founded in 2011, is focused on the needs of high-end research, pharmacies, academic and government research, agricultural research, biotech companies and others.
“We’re providing them with the picks and shovels,” he said. “We give them the tools to store data, do analysis and use visualization tools.”
Maverix uses the best peer reviewed, open source tools for analysis, Mandelkern said.
In the past, companies would have to hire computer programmers to do this work, but the cost of sequencing has recently dropped, allowing researchers to do more sequences a year. Additionally, the cloud computing evolution has allowed for companies to not have to keep a big computer with data on it at their office.
Maverix focuses on more than just human organisms for sequencing, including bacteria, potatoes, tomatoes and cows. Those looking at food items could be researching food safety diseases. The fact all of this can be done of the cloud is also of help, Mandelkern said.
“Scientists don’t work alone, they’re collaborative,” he said. “The cloud gives them the ability to collaborate. The beauty of a platform like ours is it makes it very easy to share data, notes, notations and to flag particular areas of interest.”
Researchers can also share their results with others. One gets to choose who sees his or her research. The company also follows a pay as you go model and rates depend on the size of the organism, type of analysis and other considerations.
“It’s like LinkedIn for genomic data,” he said.
What advice does Mandelkern have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
“You learn a lot more by making mistakes,” he said. “There’s a lot of pressure to start your own company, but it’s better to work for someone else first. … It’s not for everybody; I’ve seen great success and great unhappiness.”
Many students will come out of Stanford University and have never failed in their lives and then start their own companies and don’t know how to handle failure, he said. He himself is a Stanford graduate, holding both master’s and bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering.
With such a strong startup background, what drew him to become a trustee?
“I have a big interest in education and I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if I didn’t have that education,” he said. “Community colleges are what we have in San Mateo County. They’re important for job training, transfers and were important for people in the economic downturn who needed retraining.”
Mandelkern previously worked on the companies QuickHealth, Docent, Almondseed Software, V.I. Corporation and others.
For more information, go to maverixbio.com.
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