Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jessica Hanover of ATI Bioscience Talks about Moving to Austin

Where are you from?

I moved here from San Francisco. I had been working at a medical device company in Redwood City in California so when we moved here I thought I would do the same. There are several medical device companies in particular orthopedic companies here. After talking with Isaac Barchas, I decided to take up the position in the ATI.

What medical device company was that?

It was called FoxHollow and we developed and marketed an atherectomy catheter that essentially shaves plaque out the arteries in the leg and physically removes the plaque from the body. It was acquired by another company.

Where did you go to school?

I did my undergraduate work at Harvard and my graduate work at University of California at San Francisco. I met my husband while doing my PhD work in neurobiology. We lived in Chicago for awhile.

What did you think of that?

It was cold. We left because it was too cold. After three years we moved back to California. That was one of our criteria for moving. It couldn’t be cold. So tell me about CTAN.

We have 50+ members. It‘s a member-led group. We have 6 rounds of deal flow this year which includes a screening meeting and a presentation meeting. Every member writes their own check for how much they want to. We do have a Life Science subgroup which includes about 8 people with experience in the life science field. They preview the deals and make recommendations on which ones to recommend to the screening meeting.

What kind of deals does CTAN see?

We get a wide variety including medical devices, therapeutics, healthcare IT and more. We have a funding raise limit of $2M or less so that cuts out a number of therapeutics because they’re way beyond that level. Also, we see a number of electronic medical record deals but that’s pretty much a non-starter with the group because it’s a competitive space with large players in a changing regulatory environment. We do see a number of life science deals from San Antonio and Houston as syndicated deals.

So how many life science deals do you see?

We collected ten over the summer to preview. We get 5 more a quarter from San Antonio and Houston. Where do you think the life science growth opportunity is here in Austin?

The medical device sector is strong here. The diagnostics and tool companies are a key opportunity – such as LabNow. I think UT is a rich resource that we should explore more. I’ve talked with the CEO’s of many companies. They wish there was a bigger ecosystem here for life science companies. I bet in five years we’ll see many more companies here in the life science area.

What about bioinformatics?

I haven’t thought about it as much. What do you see?
Applied Biosystems bought Ambion and then moved their bioinformatics arm to Austin because of the rich software resources here in town. Just a thought.

Best regards,
Hall T.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Brian Ferry of JawDrop Development Talks about Split-shore Software Development

What is JawDrop Development about?

We provide offshore software development with an on-shore presence. We have done a good job about putting project management into place to manage each project. We’re now going to a direct business model. In the current climate where many businesses are cutting back but still need development, we offer them an alternative. The client doesn’t have to take on the overhead.

We have a pretty good run of customers and are getting significant value from our services. We offer 12 month contracts our experience shows that clients prefer to have dedicated resources and the comfort of our longer term partnership

How do you price it out?

We charge a monthly fixed cost, that ends up being less than half of the cost of a local developer. We provide statements of work to set expectations, deliverables and timeline, along with a local project manager, weekly reports and access to code. It’s based on a typical 40 hour work week.

How many people work there?

We have a seasoned team of developers with a range of skills sets on staff full-time in Lahore, Pakistan and here in headquarters in Austin,. We want to provide the local communication needs so the customer doesn’t have to deal with the time difference. Currently we have approximately 70 employees and we are in process of building our US based project management team.

Is it mostly web work?

Yes, we have expertise is custom applications, software mash up, and mobile platform work. Also, some firmware.

What software languages do you work with?

It’s a wide range but lately more Ruby on Rails work. It’s grown legs and there are more inquiries. Our development team is strong in JAVA, NET and Web 2.0 technologies with most current languages.

What’s driving the interest in RoR?

I think it’s the current flavor of the month. From what I know there’s no great advantage over Ajax or the others.

What do you code on the mobile platform?

Windows Mobile and now we’re doing more on the iPhone.

Do you take equity for work?

Sometimes. We can be creative.

What’s it like for a company to work with an outsourced programming team?

From the business perspective it makes sense. But people have had flawed experiences in the past. That’s the biggest challenge. We’ve doing this for several years in stealth mode, with a few companies, so we have the support team built up. We provide career paths for our development teams and most are UK / US-educated. Many of them attend UT for education and then when they go back they take their English-speaking skills with them.

What do you do that’s different?

We develop a partnership so we can provide agile development programming techniques rather than working on a project by project basis. Also, we dedicate a programmer to the same project rather than moving it around to different people. Our experience shows that the developer is much more effective working on one project, than boucning around trying to understand other applications.

What kind of collaboration tools do you use?

We use Montras which is a codetracker and debugger tool. Weekly conference call and written reports are part of the package too.

What are some success stories?

We’ve worked with Clearcube for four years. ReachForce is ramping up a bit with. Edioma is a longer term one. We have done projects in the financial and travel sectors too.

What is the next step for JawDrop?

We’re opening an office in Dubai.

Why Dubai?

That’s where the action is.

Best regards,
Hall T.