20 Questions With Alexander Bisignano Founder of Recombine

Alex is a technology driven molecular biologist. Leveraging the most cutting edge advances in genomics and computer science, he builds products to improve the delivery of healthcare diagnostics for patients and medical providers.

Recombine is a clinical genetic testing company that facilitates informed medical decisions for patients and providers through innovative products and collaborative research. Their products are built on cutting-edge technologies and Recombine is driven by experts in diverse fields who share a vision of a world where the power of personalized genomics is fully harnessed. Recombine’s affordable tests and in-depth genetic counseling services deliver valuable insights to thousands of patients worldwide through their robust network of respected physicians. They leverage the power of big data to achieve new perspectives on the science and delivery of genetics in the realm of fertility and beyond. 

Alex answers our questions about healthcare, startups, coworking and other advice on becoming a successful founder. 

Who are your ideal clients?: At Recombine we help couples who are thinking about having children understand how their genetics may impact their child. Our clients are primarily IVF Clinics and Ob/Gyn offices: we partner with physicians to help them provide the best-in-class medical genetic testing services.

Is this your first business?: Yes, Recombine is my first company.

What is the biggest reason for your success so far?: People. I'm lucky to be surrounded by incredible people. My co-founders are industry experts with incredible backgrounds in fertility and genetics. I have excellent investors and advisors, and the team here at Recombine is the best. Everyday, I'm excited to come to work to be with such an intelligent, hard-working, passionate group of people.

What were the earliest indications that this business could be successful?: Genomics is a growing field. Over the past 15 years, the cost to sequence the human genome has gone from >$100M to less than $1000. That's huge. When we started Recombine, sequencing the genome was not the problem - it was interpreting the data. We built a business around better understanding genomic information, and further, helping physicians and patients understand how that impacts their healthcare.

What position did you hire first?: My first hire was my now Chief Product Officer, Neha Kumar. Neha is an incredible force: intelligent, hard-working and egoless. I'd say the most important trait in all the first employees is that everyone was willing to do anything the business needed. From shipping out marketing materials to advising on product decisions to writing software, we all chipped in to help launch the product.

What is working best for your marketing right now?: We do a combination of marketing focused on Healthcare Providers and Patient Education. This means generating and creating novel scientific content (through studies submitted to medical journals) to important social and patient perspective pieces (generally written by the staff here and published on news.recombine.com). I'd say understanding and reaching our different markets through different mediums has been very important. Our marketing team is awesome.

What is your biggest differentiator?: There are many other genetic testing companies out there. Before us, most testing was done by Quest and Labcorp, the two largest labs in the country. At Recombine, we've focused on bringing more tests to patients, yet still at a lower price. Beyond that, our biggest value-add is the service we built around the test. We employee some of the most dedicated Genetic Counselors in the industry who work everyday with our Physician partners and patients to help them interpret their results.

What is the toughest decision you've had to make in the last few months?: Many of our difficult decisions are usually of what NOT to be focusing on. There are many areas where our technology can add value though we have to be careful not to dilute our focus. We recently chose to stay out of a certain market so as to maintain our focus on a core set of markets and new products.

If it was possible, what advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?: Study Computer Science. I was a Molecular Biology major, and while this is an obviously important piece of background for Genomics, the field is rapidly in need of more experts with knowledge of computer science.

How did you meet your co-founders or business partners?: My co-founder, Dr. Santiago Munne, and myself were introduced through one of my professors at Princeton.

Do you ever use coworking spaces?: Prior to starting Recombine, and for our first few employees, I worked exclusively in co-working spaces. The sense of community and the individuals I met really helped form Recombine today.

What book are you most likely to give as a gift?: Tribal Leadership: It's a great book on company culture, how to diagnose, maintain, and elevate the environment of the peers we work with every day.

Favorite place to travel to?: Tough question. I prefer to go places where I have not been before.

What is the best small business in your neighborhood?: I love local coffee shops.

Do you have any favorite freelancers you have worked with?: Yes, I've worked with freelancers through TopTal, and they've been awesome.

What is your favorite app or online tool?: Right now, I'd say SoundCloud. Music helps me focus!

What was the best event that you recently attended?: We recently had a company bowling event at Recombine, and it was fun to spend some time with my wonderful co-workers.

How did you finance your business?: Our original financing was a seed round from a few high-net worth individuals. In February of 2014, we did a $3.3MM Series A fundraise led by FirstMark Capital. They have been really incredible partners helping to advise, connect and support the business over the past few years.

What business would you love for someone else to start?: Stem Cells: Someone please tackle stem cells! It'd be great if we can start replacing and regrowing parts of our body as needed.

What advice do you have for new founders?: Be extremely passionate about the business you are starting. There will always be highs and lows, and it's the passion in the subject matter that gets you through the lows.

Twitter: @alxbz