/ Lab Monitoring

Interview: Enhancing HappiLabs' Virtual Lab Manager capabilities with CEO, Tom Ruginis.

How would you describe HappiLabs?

HappiLabs provides a service, The Virtual Lab Manager, that uses PhD level scientists to remotely support scientists in labs across the country. We remove the need for another full-time employee in a customer’s lab, and centralize that role from our headquarters in Chicago.

About 60% of a lab manager’s job can be done from anywhere in the world with a computer and internet connection - especially tech-related activities. Not only can we handle that work remotely for less than you would compensate in-house resources, we also do it much faster. As the experts in virtual lab management, we’ve built and use tools specifically for optimizing and streamlining our workflow.

What are you responsible for at HappiLabs?

I’m the CEO, but also a virtual lab manager setting the trend for what makes a lab a “lab of the future.”

How is the HappiLabs approach unique?

We’re a very hands-on, personalized service. We tell the non-science community that we’re like personal shoppers for scientists. We take the purchasing and shopping experience very seriously to make sure scientists are getting what they need at a fair value.

We also know the supply chain inside and out--who sells what, where their warehouses are, average shipping delivery times, and average cost of product. This makes us unique. Where a regular lab manager is focused on the lab infrastructure, we’re focused on the supply chain infrastructure and how physical things get from a manufacturing plant to scientist’s hands, ASAP.

And then there’s the accounting training we provide to our virtual lab managers. We are not only PhD’s who know brands and costs of an antibody or 10cm cell culture dish, but we are also trained bookkeepers who keep the accounting clean for our grant or VC funded labs.

What’s in your “operations stack”? Which is to say - what software, tools, technologies, processes etc keep HappiLabs a well-oiled machine?

  • Slack! - used for internal communication, we set up channels directly with our lab’s scientists, and some suppliers give us a dedicated customer service agent to communicate with (removing the need to call 1-800...Press 1 for...hold music….etc). It’s all part of the process we implement to shave seconds and minutes off the lab manager’s job.
  • HappiLabs ETA Dashboard - our app for tracking shipments. Similar to the screens at airports, the ETA Dashboard helps us keep our scientists up to date on their orders and they never have to ask, “When will my order arrive?”
  • G-Suite - For organizing files such as Packing Slips, SDS, Invoices, User Manuals, and other random files that accumulate over time
  • Quartzy - used for managing order requests and in some cases, inventory location
  • Moom - a hidden little gem of an app, used for auto-resizing windows on a computer screen
  • Domo - a software used for data analytics and visualization
  • Keyboard training - We studied the actions we use most as a lab manager, and identified the keyboard shortcuts that apply to those actions. Then we train all Virtual Lab Managers to use those key strokes.
  • TetraScience (that's us!) - used to monitor the health of our lab equipment so the scientists don’t have to worry about it.
  • and from a process perspective, we do regular daily standups to solve problems as a team and stay on the same page

How are you leveraging TetraScience?

Previously, most of the thermometers and alarms we had were local - as in, they could only be seen or heard from inside the lab. TetraScience allows the monitoring of equipment from anywhere in the world. We don’t have to be in the lab to look at a thermometer and see that the temp of the fridge is dipping and we need to get it serviced.

The concept falls in line with the movement (coming mostly out of Silicon Valley) to virtualize/outsource as much of science as possible in order to make it possible for a scientist to start a company or experiment with virtual tools.

How does TetraScience fit into your broader strategy?

TetraScience helps us monitor the health of the lab, like a heart monitor. With TetraScience, we can stay virtual and offer more value. Labs don’t have to have more Research Assistants/Techs, lowering overhead costs, and can rely on remote monitoring of metrics such as lab budgeting, temperature and sample monitoring, etc.

Finally, are there any HappiLabs announcements, news, openings etc our readers should know about?

In December HappiLabs has hired its 12th employee. We’re very excited to have created 12 jobs since our inception.

We’re hiring our next Virtual Lab Manager, a Director of Operations, and Head of Technology (a young, recent Computer Science graduate). Only the VLM job ad is posted publicly.

Learn more about HappiLabs on their website.

Check out the TetraScience Lab Monitoring solution right here.