Interview with Kelley Intehar, Sales Director North America
Can you tell us a bit about your training, background, and experience?
I have worked with sales and sales management in the Life Science industry for almost 30 years. During this time, I’ve gained broad experience from both instrumentation and service companies, targeting a wide range of markets all the way from research and academia to commercial segments such as pharmaceutical, biotechnology and diagnostics companies.
Prior to AcouSort, my most recent role was leading a commercial team at Bio-Techne, a company that sells reagents and instruments. I managed a group of 14 people focused on selling critical reagents to the Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine markets.
You joined the AcouSort team last year. What was it that attracted you to the company?
I think that AcouSort’s business model is very appealing as it includes OEM possibilities as well as benchtop research instruments. After many years in the industry, I can really see the value in working closely with researchers in the lab to validate the technology, publish results and together establish credibility. The ability to combine this with the scalable opportunity to integrate OEM components into our partner systems is very exciting. This gives us the opportunity to apply AcouSort’s technology to true solutions for many more end-users.
Once on board, I also discovered the strengths of the team. It is small but very effective in supporting customers and colleagues.
How would you describe the American markets for cell therapy and diagnostics?
The American Cell Therapy market is rapidly evolving. The therapies that are available on the market today have an exceedingly high manufacturing cost. Because of this, the current focus is to automate processes to decrease the cost per patient and to research so called allogenic therapies that could be mass produced. AcouSort has a lot to offer in this area, providing a technology that enable automation of cell preparations and cell washes.
The US Diagnostic market is also constantly seeking additional automation, particularly for sample preparation. I predict that our partnerships will continue to mature in this area and the outlook is promising. Current trends in Diagnostics are driven by a need to streamline workflows and get more information from less sample – applying multiple assay technologies on one single sample where different sample fractions may be needed for the analysis. This is also an area that is very interesting for AcouSort’s platforms.
Where do you see the greatest opportunities for AcouSort?
Currently, AcouSort offers significant improvements as to how cells are prepared prior to analysis. These improvements translate into higher sample quality that ultimately can lead to decreasing the time and cost of analysis, which is a critical factor in many clinical labs. The focus on current opportunities is to partner with academic researchers who are Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) with relationships with both liquid handling platform companies as well as Flow Cytometry and Mass Spectrometry companies.
Additionally, we are active in several projects working to optimize the sample processing rates. With this, the opportunities will open for additional diagnostic and cell therapy applications.
Technology validation through research collaborations is critical to establishing the methods that will mature the technology. Technology companies are initially “engineering” companies with great ideas. They become validated technology companies by expanding the scope to include biology and chemistry methods.
Where do you see AcouSort in five years’ time?
Multiple partnerships in research, cell and gene therapy and diagnostic markets are critical to the growth of the company. We are building a network of researchers and partners who will help us with the development that is necessary to take us to a commercially matured technology.
The research-to-OEM model is critical to grow the company to these next steps. Our focus is to build relationships with researchers and companies that fit this model, while providing solutions to researchers along the way.
One of the most rewarding things in technical sales is to enable researchers to answer questions that they were previously unable to answer. The AcouSort platforms allow that process for many different applications.
What does a normal working day look like for you, if there is such a thing?
After almost eight years at a large company (Bio-Techne), I am enjoying my transition back to a small company. I spent much of my career supporting smaller organizations where you have to wear multiple hats. That is what I enjoy most about my current role.
A typical day in the field includes meetings with researchers or potential partners to discuss their specific challenges and to investigate the possible solutions that AcouSort could provide. This is by far the most enjoyable part of my new role. I also have close contact with the team in Sweden to discuss applications and optimize workflows as we move forward with these interactions.
My home base in Tennessee, and when not on the road this is where you find me. From here, I do research on Key Opinion Leaders in our areas of focus to identify targets for sales/technical discussions. I also do networking with existing contacts – former colleagues and customers – who may help us establish the platforms/technology for our target applications.
Any other comments you want to make?
I am extremely pleased to be part of the AcouSort team and help build their presence here in North America. One of the most enjoyable parts of my career within life science has been the opportunity to investigate problems/challenges and provide solutions. AcouSort has great potential to provide solutions to many different types of researchers and life science partners, and it is extremely rewarding to help bring those solutions to the market.