By: Mary N. Wessling, Ph.D. ELS

In this blog we will unravel the terminology describing bacterial toxins. In general, there are at least three ways that bacterial toxins are described in the literature:

Below are examples of each:

Biological designation

When described by their biological designation a part of the genus or species name is used for the toxin. For example: Clostridium tetani produces Tetanus toxin and Corynebacterium diphtheriae produces Diphtheria toxin.

Origin of the toxin

Exotoxins (e.g. polypeptides) are toxins released by a cell, whereas endotoxins (e.g. lipopolysaccharides) are an integral part of the bacterial cell wall.

Body part damaged by the toxin

Bacteria may cause disease through their toxins that enter the body via the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, genital tract, and the skin. Enterotoxins mostly affect the gastrointestinal tract. “Entero” comes from the Greek word “enteron” meaning intestine.

Bacterial enterotoxins include examples of exotoxins produced by some strains of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and Escherichia coli (E. coli).Staphylococcal enterotoxin acts on intestinal neurons to induce vomiting; E. coli producing Shiga toxin causes serious dysentery and can lead to hemorrhagic diarrhea and kidney failure.

You will also see other terms used to designate toxins…

Superantigens: toxins that cause over-reaction

Antigens are characterized by their ability to activate T-cells and other immune system cells; while the T-cell response is a normal part of the immune process, over-activation of T-cells can cause an inflammatory response that can result in shock and multiple organ failure.

Pore-forming toxins that open host cell membranes

Pore-forming toxins (PFT) are toxin proteins with the ability to spontaneously self-assemble forming transmembrane pores in the membrane of target cells. Staphylococcal alpha toxin, also known as alpha-haemolysin, makes specific pores in target cells which are part of the pathology of infection and a valuable tool in construction of nanopores. Tetanolysin is another pore forming toxin produced by C. tetani which can make cells permeable to materials for experimentation.

Intracellular toxins

These toxins have two-part structures and are termed AB toxins. The A stands for “active”, the B for “binding”, for the ways that the two structures cooperatively cause cell damage. In most cases, the B structural element attaches to the cell membrane and provides an entry point for the other part, the A-enzyme component that causes damage to the inside of the cell through its enzymatic activity.

Some AB toxins have more than one B moiety: for example, the cholera toxin has five B proteins that provide entry for the A moiety, so it is designated AB5. The A moiety is initially a coiled chain but once inside the cell it uncoils, where its enzymatic activity kills the enteric cell.

Ligand-receptor interactions

The actions of exotoxins and endotoxins depend on a process whereby a part of their molecular structure, a ligand, can bind or otherwise interact with a structure on the host cell being attacked, a receptor. Thus, this ligand–receptor interaction is crucial to most diseases produced by bacterial toxins.

Lethal dose 50%

Bacteria cause disease by toxin production, invasion and inflammation. All toxins damage or disrupt the functions of the host cells. The term that describes the level of danger presented to the host by a toxin is “Lethal Dose 50%”, abbreviated LD50; the lower the LD50, the lower the amount of toxin to cause death.

 

By: Rachel Berlin, Marketing Manager

1978 was a great year for scientific advancement – NASA hired the first women astronauts, the first test tube baby was born and List Labs was founded. Linda Shoer, our founder, saw an opportunity when she realized there was a need for a commercial supplier of Cholera Toxin for studies in signal transduction and neuronal track tracing. On May 18, 1978, Linda started something more than a company, she started a family- the List Labs family.

List Labs 40th Anniversary

List Labs’ catalog has grown to include over 100 products, which have been used in thousands of scientific research projects over the years. More recently we have added services to our offerings; this trend started in the early 90’s when List Labs manufactured Botulinum Toxin (Botox) for Allergan. Since then our services have expanded to include cGMP grade manufacturing, live biotherapeutics products, scalable process development for fermentation, purification and lyophilization, enhanced QC testing and more! We’ve also added to our team of experts with employees in Microbiology, Production, QC, QA, Sales and Marketing, Shipping, Administration and Finance.

List Labs carries on the values instilled by Linda Shoer and continues to grow our team, our capabilities and experience. We are excited to see what the next 40 years bring!

List Labs' founder Linda Shoer

List Labs’ founder Linda Shoer

The origin of businesses is often an interesting story. List Biological Laboratories is no exception. The company was founded in 1978 by Linda Shoer. Linda was an entrepreneurial scientist in Silicon Valley, who’d been relocated with her husband from Boston. She had an idea for a company and leveraged an initial order into a loan from a bank, fearless that her vision would be successful. That order and loan served as the starting point for List Laboratories. The first product was a Cholera Toxin.

List Labs Develops Full Range of Bacterial Toxins and Contract Manufacturing Services

Linda had a clear plan for the company and it involved the development of a product line devoted exclusively to Bacterial Toxins and related products. List Labs was the first to commercialize many bacterial toxins for research including C. difficile Toxins and Pertussis Toxins.

Linda was well connected and comfortable networking with colleagues and proposing new business ideas or ventures.  She got the company involved in contract manufacturing and consulting early on. In the 90’s List Labs was instrumental in the manufacturing of a very popular injectable consumer product to smooth facial wrinkles.   Upon her death, she left the business to the current management team; a team that has now worked together for over 20 years.

List Labs – Still Women-Owned and Cutting Edge

Shoer’s presence is still strongly felt and the company has always remained a women owned and operated business. In an era of takeovers and transition, List Laboratories has remained true to its founding and focus. Today, the List Labs catalog offers over 100 products including Toxins, Peptides, Antibodies and Lipopolysaccharides. Many of the employees have worked together for decades.

In 2008, the company built out a new lab, complete with state of the art equipment.   List has produced several batches of high purity proteins used to test vaccines. Additionally, the company specializes in the production, shipment and handling of dangerous goods. In the last several years List Labs has worked on a variety of microbiome projects, custom fills, development work and special Select Agent projects on various subtypes of Botulinum Toxin. We have also provided GMP product for many phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. We enjoy the variety of work and welcome inquiries from new customers.  

Today, List Labs takes great pride in its reputation for high quality products and exceptional customer service. The company works with businesses and organizations worldwide on custom projects or contract manufacturing opportunities as well as selling a broad array of toxins and related products. List Labs heart is in the science and the discovery of innovative solutions. Their office is located in Campbell, CA, in the Silicon Valley. If you have questions about any of our products or services, contact us today!

By: Md. Elias, Ph.D, Senior Scientist

List Labs is one of the leading manufacturers of high quality adjuvants from bacterial sources. Our highly purified adjuvants for research and development are Tetanus Toxoid (Product #191), Cholera Toxin B Subunit (Product #104), Diphtheria Toxin CRM197 Mutant (Product #149), Adenylate Cyclase Mutant, Cya-AC (Product #198L), Pertusis Toxin Mutant (Product #184), and LPS and its derivatives (Products #400, #401, #421, #423, #433, #434). GMP grade material is available by custom order.

In immunology, an adjuvant is a component that enhances and/or potentiates the immune responses (humoral and /or cell mediated) to an antigen and modulates it to achieve the desired immune responses. Adjuvants can be used for various reasons: (i) to enhance the immunogenicity of antigens; (ii) to reduce the amount of antigen or the number of immunizations needed for protective immunity; (iii) to improve the efficacy of vaccines in immune-compromised persons; (iv) to increase functional antibody titer; or (v) as antigen delivery systems for the uptake of antigens by the mucosa (1-3). Brief descriptions of List Labs products that have potential uses as vaccine adjuvants or immune modulators are provided below. For more details, please visit www.ListLabs.com.

Tetanus Toxoid (Product #191): Tetanus toxoid is prepared by formaldehyde inactivation of pure neurotoxin (Product #190). There are FDA approved vaccines that use a tetanus toxoid antigen to protect children and adult against tetanus such as DAPTACEL and Tripedia, and others that use it as a carrier in conjugate vaccines against various pathogens. For example, MenHibrix® is an FDA approved vaccine where tetanus toxoid has been conjugated to Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C and Y capsular polysaccharides and Hib capsular polysaccharide. Several other tetanus toxoid conjugated vaccines are in research and investigation stages such as Type III group B streptococcal polysaccharide-tetanus toxoid conjugate vaccine (4). Information on our entire family of Tetanus products can be found at https://www.listlabs.com/products/tetanus-toxins-&-related-products/.

Cholera Toxin B subunit (Products #103B and #104): Cholera toxin B subunit (CTB) is the cell binding domain of cholera toxin protein complex. The holotoxin consists of a single A subunit bearing ADP-ribosyl-transferase activity surrounded by five B subunits that bind to GM1 ganglioside receptors on mammalian cell surfaces and facilitate entrance of the A subunit into cells. The non-toxic CTB has been shown to be an efficient mucosal adjuvant and carrier molecule for the generation of mucosal antibody responses and/or induction of systemic T-cell tolerance to linked antigens. Due to the ubiquitous presence of the GM1 ganglioside receptor on eukaryotic cell membranes, CTB has been extensively used as a conjugate and non-conjugate vaccine adjuvant in a wide variety of model systems.

A CTB-urease conjugated vaccine has been shown to prevent infection by Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that infects greater than 50% of world population and can cause a variety of gastrointestinal diseases (5). A series of studies have been carried out to develop CTB carrier based vaccines to prevent HIV-1 (6) and West Nile Virus infections (7). CTB has been used as a component of a skin patch for transcutaneous immunization against hepatitis B virus in a mouse model (8). Besides the adjuvant activity, recent studies show that CTB can suppress immunopathological reactions in allergy and autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease (9). Information on our entire family of Cholera products can be found at https://www.listlabs.com/products/cholera-toxins/.

Diphtheria Toxin CRM197 Mutant (Product #149): CRM197 is a non-toxic mutant of diphtheria toxin lacking the ADP-ribosylation activity (10). CRM197 results from a naturally occuringsingle base change (glutamic acid to glycine) in the toxin gene which is immunologically indistinguishable from the native diphtheria toxin. CRM197 functions as a carrier for polysaccharides and haptens making them immunogenic (11, 12). It is utilized as a carrier to develop conjugate vaccines for diseases such as pneumococcal and meningococcal infections. MenACWY-CRM is an approved vaccine to protect adults and adolescents against disease caused by meningococcal serogroups A, C, W-135 and Y. Information on our entire family of Diphtheria products can be found at https://www.listlabs.com/products/diphtheria-toxins/.

Adenylate Cyclase Toxoid, Cya-AC (Product #198L): A genetically modified adenylate cyclase toxin (ACT) lacking adenylate cyclase activity (CyaA-AC) has been produced (13). Although the catalytic activity is destroyed, CyaA-AC is still cell invasive and able to induce an immune response to co-administered pertussis antigens (14, 15).  CyaA-AC has been shown to promote delivering of vaccine antigens into the cytosol of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I antigen-presenting cells (16). CyaA-AC has been used as a tool to deliver antigens to T-cells in anti-cancer immunotherapeutic vaccines (17, 18).

Pertussis Toxin Mutant (Product #184): List Labs produces Pertussis Toxin Mutant, a genetically inactivated form of pertussis toxin where mutations were introduced to abolish the catalytic activity of the S1 subunit while the toxin complex still retains the cell binding ability (19). A pertusis toxin mutant has been used as an adjuvant or as a carrier to promote an immune response. These studies indicated that pertussis toxin mutant possesses adjuvant properties with the ability to encourage both local and systemic responses, to promote T helper cell responses to co-administered antigens and to favor the production of Th1/Th17 cells, important in mediating host immunity to infectious pathogens (20). Pertusis toxin binds to the cell receptor, TLR4 which activates Rac and subsequently causes various effects depending on the type of cell treated (21). The toxin or binding oligomer induces dendritic cell maturation in a TLR4-dependent manner (22). Information on our entire family of Pertussis products can be found at https://www.listlabs.com/products/pertussis-toxins-&-virulence-factors/.

LPS and its derivatives: List Labs provides LPS and various derivatives: highly purified HPTTM LPS from Escherichia coli O113 (Product #433); Ultar Pure Escherichia coli O111:B4 LPS (Product #421); Escherichia coli O55:B5 LPS (Product #423); Ultra pure LPS from Salmonella Minnesota R595 (Product #434); Lipid A Monophosphoryl from Salmonella Minnesota R595 (Product #401) and highly purified HPTTM LPS from Bordetella pertusis strain 165 (Product #400). For other LPS products please go to our product website. These LPS products are widely used as vaccine adjuvants and immune stimulators.

LPS is a potent stimulator of the vertebrate innate immune system mediated by macrophages and dendritic cells and generates a rapid response to infectious agents. Structural patterns common to diverse LPS molecules are recognized by Toll-like receptors (TLR) and accessory proteins in serum.  LPS released from bacterial membranes is bound to LPS binding protein (LBP) in serum, transferred to CD-14, an LPS receptor glycoprotein, and presented to the TLR-4-MD-2 complex, stimulating production of cytokines. LPS has a wide range of uses in research and drug development.  It may be used to stimulate immune cells and investigate the innate immune responses.  In drug development, structurally modified LPS forms, such as monophophoryl lipid A (MPLA) have been used as adjuvants in a wide range of vaccine formulations. MPLA, a TLR4 agonist has been formulated with liposomes, oil emulsions, or aluminium salts for several vaccines such as malaria vaccine (known as RTS,S) that is comprised of MPLA and a detoxified saponin derivative, QS-21 (3). Information on our entire family of Lipopolysaccharides can be found at https://www.listlabs.com/products/lipopolysaccharides/.

List Labs specializes in producing high quality adjuvants for vaccine development and is interested in partnering with others on new projects.  See some of our special projects or contact us for more information.

  1. Lee S.,Nguyen M.T. Recent advances of vaccine adjuvants for infectious diseases. Immune Netw. 2015, 15(2): 51-7. PMID: 25922593
  2. Petrovsky N., Aguilar J.C. Vaccine adjuvants: current state and future trends. Immunol Cell Biol.2004, 82(5): 488-96. PMID: 15479434 
  3. Alving C.R., Peachman K.K.,Rao M., Reed S.G. Adjuvants for human vaccines. Curr Opin Immunol. 2012, 24 (3):310-5. PMID: 22521140 
  4. Baker C.J., Rench M.A., McInnes P. Immunization of pregnant women with group B streptococcal type III capsular polysaccharide-tetanus toxoid conjugate vaccine. 2003. 21(24)3468-72. PMID: 12850362
  5. Guo L., Li X., Tang F., He Y., Xing Y., Deng X., Xi T. Immunological features and the ability of inhibitory effects on enzymatic activity of an epitope vaccine composed of cholera toxin B subunit and B cell epitope from Helicobacter pylori urease A subunit. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2012, 93(5):1937-45. PMID: 22134639
  6. Matoba N., Kajiura H., Cherni I., Doran J.D., Bomsel M., Fujiyama K., Mor T.S. Biochemical and immunological characterization of the plant-derived candidate human immunodeficiency virus type 1 mucosal vaccine CTB-MPR. Plant Biotechnol J.2009, 7(2):129-45. PMID: 19037902
  7. Tinker J.K., Yan J., Knippel R.J., Anayiotou P., Ornell K.A. Immunogenicity of a West Nile virus DIII-cholera toxin A2/B chimera after intranasal delivery. Toxins (Basel).2014, 6(4):1397-418. PMID: 24759174
  8. Anjuere F., George-Chandy A., Audant F., Rousseau D., Holmgren J., Czerkinsky C. Transcutaneous immunization with cholera toxin B subunit adjuvant suppresses IgE antibody responses via selective induction of Th1 immune responses. J Immunol.2003, 170(3):1586-92. PMID: 12538724
  9. Sun J.B., Czerkinsky C.,Holmgren J. Mucosally induced immunological tolerance, regulatory T cells and the adjuvant effect by cholera toxin B subunit. Scand J Immunol. 2010, 71(1):1-11. PMID: 20017804
  10. Pappenheimer Jr. A.M., Uchida T., Harper A.A. An immunological study of the diphtheria toxin molecule. 1972, 9(9):891-906. PMID: 4116339
  11. Gupta R.K., Siber G.R. Reappraisal of existing methods for potency testing of vaccines against tetanus and diphtheria. 1995, 13(11): 965-6. PMID: 8525688
  12. Benaissa-Trouw B., Lefeber D.J, Kamerling J.P., Vliegenthart J.F., Kraaijeveld K., Snippe H. Synthetic polysaccharide type 3-related di-, tri-, and tetrasaccharide-CRM (197) conjugates induce protection against Streptococcus pneumoniae type 3 in mice. Infect Immun.2001, 69(7):4698-701. PMID: 11402020
  13. Simsova M., Sebo P., Leclerc C. The adenylate cyclase toxin from Bordetella pertussis–a novel promising vehicle for antigen delivery to dendritic cells. Int J Med Microbiol. 2004, 293(7-8):571-6. PMID: 15149033
  14. Macdonald-Fyall J., Xing D., Corbel M., Baillie S., Parton R., Coote J. Adjuvanticity of native and detoxified adenylate cyclase toxin of Bordetella pertussistowards co-administered antigens. 2004, 22(31-32):4270-81. PMID: 15474718
  15. Cheung G.Y., Xing D., Prior S., Corbel M.J., Parton R., Coote J.G. Effect of different forms of adenylate cyclase toxin of Bordetella pertussis on protection afforded by an acellular pertussis vaccine in a murine model. Infect Immun.2006, 74(12):6797-805. PMID: 16982827
  16. Osicka R., Osicková A., Basar T., Guermonprez P., Rojas M., Leclerc C., Sebo P. Delivery of CD8(+) T-cell epitopes into major histocompatibility complex class I antigen presentation pathway by Bordetella pertussis adenylate cyclase: delineation of cell invasive structures and permissive insertion sites. Infection Immunity, 2000, 68(1): 247-256. PMID: 10603395
  17. Dadaglio G., Morel S., Bauche C.,  Moukrim Z., Lemonnier F.A., Van Den Eynde B.J., Ladant D., Leclerc C.  Recombinant adenylate cyclase toxin of Bordetella pertussisinduces cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses against HLA*0201-restricted melanoma epitopes. Int Immunol. 2003 15(12):1423-30. PMID: 14645151
  18. Fayolle C., Ladant D., Karimova G., Ullmann A., Leclerc C. Therapy of murine tumors with recombinant  Bordetella pertussisadenylate cyclase carrying a cytotoxic T cell epitope. J Immunol. 1999, 162(7):4157-62. PMID: 10201941
  19. Brown D.R.,Keith J.M., Sato H., Sato Y. Construction and characterization of genetically inactivated pertussis toxin. Dev Biol Stand. 1991, 73:63-73. PMID: 1778335
  20. Nasso M., Fedele G., Spensieri F., Palazzo R., Costantino P., Rappuoli R., Ausiello C.M. Genetically detoxified pertussis toxin induces Th1/Th17 immune response through MAPKs and IL-10-dependent mechanisms. J Immunol. 2009, 183(3):1892-9. PMID: 19596995
  21. Nishida M.,Suda R., Nagamatsu Y., Tanabe S., Onohara N., Nakaya M., Kanaho Y., Shibata T., Uchida K., Sumimoto H., Sato Y., Kurose H. Pertussis toxin up-regulates angiotensin type 1 receptors through Toll-like receptor 4-mediated Rac activation. J Biol Chem. 2010, 285(20):15268-77. PMID: 20231290
  22. Wang ZY., Yang D., Chen Q., Leifer C.A., Segal D.M., Su S.B., Caspi R.R., Howard Z.O., Oppenheim J.J. Induction of dendritic cell maturation by pertussis toxin and its B subunit differentially initiate Toll-like receptor 4-dependent signal transduction pathways. Exp Hematol. 2006, 34(8):1115-24. PMID: 16863919

Original Post By:
Linda Eaton, Ph.D., VP of Research and Development
Eva Purro, Director of Quality Assurance

Updates by:
Dom C. Ouano, Marketing

4-13-15

Cholera QD Product #9100B is now available for purchase online.
Vial Size: 1 mg
List Price: $550/vial
Minimum order: 5 vials

4-8-15

Cholera QD Product #9100B is now available from stock.
Vial Size: 1 mg
List Price: $550/vial
Minimum order: 5 vials
Please e-mail info@listlabs.com to place your order.

3-11-15

Product Number 9100B has been assigned to the new cholera toxin QD grade, size 1.0 mg. We will continue to update this post as QC continues.

3-9-15

List Labs has produced cholera toxin for more than thirty years as a research reagent. We now produce various grades of product, ranging from Reagent Grade to cGMP. An intermediate grade is our quality documented (QD) grade, which refers to compliance to Q7A methodology and cGMP documentation and has been termed “GMP-like”.

Our most recently produced cholera toxin lot is QD grade. QD grade material is frequently chosen for pre-clinical use and has been used by some clients as a reagent in the preparation of clinical trial material. Our current lot is in QC for release testing. Release testing will include analyses for purity, identity, binding activity and enzymatic activity. We are taking pre-orders for this lot now and will update you as to the first date of availability. Please inquire by e-mailing info@listlabs.com.

We can also produce cGMP cholera toxin by special request at additional cost. We are glad to work with you to fulfill your requirements.

Fundastic believes in being objective and transparent when it comes to funding and financing for small businesses. The following is an interview between Fundastic writer Sarah Tang and List Labs President Dr. Karen Crawford.
View the original post here.

By: Sarah Tang
Fundastic Business Owner Stories

Dr. Karen Crawford is the president of List Labs, a manufacturing and contracting lab that was the first of its kind to commercialize many bacterial toxins for research. Since its establishment by Linda Shoer in 1978, List Labs has been female owned and operated. First a scientist, then a businesswoman, Dr. Crawford brings an analytical mindset to List Lab’s unique business operations.

The Start

How did you start your business?

Linda Shoer had her PhD, post-doctorate, and she wanted a career in science. Her sisters were also PhD scientists, and one was working at a pharmaceutical company which at the time was developing a vaccine against cholera. Shoer saw cholera toxin as a profitable product. Cholera toxin was not only needed for vaccine development but it was also useful in cell research. She approached a distributor and made a deal that if she produced a batch they would buy the product. Cholera toxin was List Lab’s first product.

I joined List Labs in 1989. My PhD involved growing bacteria and to learn how viruses replicated. I began my career teaching science. I moved to California when I had my two boys and at that stage of my life I wanted to do something related to children. I volunteered and became a science teacher in the Saratoga area. I left when I saw school funding decreasing. My kids had grown-up by then, too. So I interviewed with List Labs. Shoer’s work seemed truly interesting. They were producing many different products with a small team of about 10. We’re about 24 now, producing 100 different products.

How did you fund your business in the beginning?

Shoer took a small loan from local bank. It was just her in the beginning. She kept the operations small. Her first employee was the landlord’s granddaughter and they were just a few blocks away from our current location in a small 3-room lab.

Running the Business

How did you learn to run the business?

As a scientist I need to understand a problem and think about how to address it. It is the same for business, but in managing a company you work at a different level. My personality is about getting into the details to learn a lot about one thing. In business you become a person who knows a little about a lot. I need to know about insurance coverage, finances, dealing with personnel. But luckily because I have good people working for me I don’t have to know a lot about those things, just something.

First Customer?

Sigma, a distributor, was our first customer. Our customers are vaccine companies, universities, hospitals and government research. The product focus of our business is driven by the customers and they have changed dramatically since 1978. There was a point when almost everything we did was to support anthrax vaccine development. We were in the process of making non-toxic anthrax products to test vaccines when some people released anthrax spores wanting to create havoc. There was a lot of government funding going in that direction so our business shifted its focus to the anthrax product line.  While switching focus to meet the needs of customers we have maintained a steadily growing product line.

Now people are into other things. For instance there’s a lot of money going into research with emerging viruses right now. The government wants bio-security, companies want to develop vaccines, and universities want to figure out how things work, and we have to understand all these points of view.

What’s the biggest mistake you made in the first year?

Not making the business modular. I brought the business into the current building which is bigger. A bigger facility means you need more business. There’s a lot of controlling factors on the design of a biological containment facility, and we wanted a design that could support different kinds of projects. If the business had been more modular you could take a piece out and put it to rest when you don’t have the business to fill it. But we built the facility as a single unit so we have to maintain the whole thing and that becomes a financial responsibility.

What’s the smartest thing you did in the first year?

Moving the business to a bigger facility – it’s the bad and the good. Overall it’s great. It gives us a lot more opportunities that wouldn’t come with a smaller less well designed facility.

What’s the most rewarding thing about running your own business?

This work is really interesting. It was always my dream to go into research and in this business; I support research in labs throughout the world.

What’s the most challenging thing about running your own business?

Keeping projects coming in to fill our capacity. Marketing is our solution to that. Marketing used to be word of mouth. People would cite us in papers under their list of materials, and if someone wanted to try the same or similar experiment they would order from us. It used to be your network was the people you meet at meetings, people from your school and the people in the lab with you. We didn’t have the social media we have today which makes networking easier.

What’s the most surprising thing about running your own business?

I’m always surprised when people gather up forces and help me achieve something that I see as a goal. That’s always a delight. Somehow I feel like, oh my goodness, first off this has to be done and, two,  I’ve got to do it myself. But then someone steps up and helps me do it.

What business owner or entrepreneur do you admire most?

It would have to be Linda Shoer, the one who started the business; she was fearless. She was able to go out and do cold-call kind of introductions to get business. She did quite well that way. She was also good at making relationships with people that could help her. She had a good way of getting people to feel that she needed their help and they would help her. I think women can be especially good at that, appearing to need help.

What I’ve Learned

What do you wish you had known before you had started your business?

Establish good contacts– people who can do things for you, because you can’t do everything yourself. When I first started Linda had a handful of people she could always call. There was the the electrician, the accountant, the lawyer you could always call. The business has become more complicated as we’ve grown but we always have people we can call on.

If you could go back to when you were starting your business, what advice would you give yourself?

If I were to do another business like this I would make it more modular. It’s hard to imagine it when you have a business that depends upon a lot of infrastructure. This is a pretty unusual business and it’s hard to be ready when the business expands and contracts. It’s not anything I’ve seen done, to have a facility that’s a big shell and having little functional pieces that can be put together, but I think it can be done.

 

About the Author — Sarah is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley where she learned to love the diverse personalities of mom-and-pop stores. She likes intriguing storefronts, creative specialty stores, and well-designed business websites.