Menlo develops software with usability built in ... one key to Accuri's success."
- Jack Ball, Accuri Cytometers CCO
The Challenge

In 2005, Accuri Cytometers was a small startup that sought to revolutionize the highly technical world of flow cytometry. They needed a partner who would develop the user interface and build the software while the production hardware was being engineered. The analysis software needed to be intuitive, productive, and easy to use, right out of the box. That's what brought them to Menlo's door.

Menlo's High-Tech Anthropology® team observed that the typical user of a flow cytometer was a lab supervisor; however, all other equipment in the lab was used by graduate students. This disparity exists because the complexity of a typical flow cytometer makes it possible for graduate students to jeopardize weeks of research by improperly running a sample. If, however, Menlo was able to design flow cytometry software that would limit the potential to ruin samples, lab supervisors could feel confident letting a graduate assistant use it.

How Menlo Helped

Several discussions between the Menlo team and the Accuri team ensued. Most flow cytometers on the market targeted the lab supervisor as their typical user. Accuri, however, made a bold choice: they would target both the graduate student, "Brad," and a post-doc in an immunology lab, "Emily." The software needed to be easy to learn and use for Brad but it had to have the sophisticated analysis capability that Emily would need to do her research and publish scientific papers.

The "Brad" persona and the "Emily" persona were used by Menlo's High-Tech Anthropologists® to guide every facet of the CFlow software design. The Menlo team worked to ensure that the software made sense to the researchers who used it, not just the software developers who built it. To accomplish this, design assessments were conducted with representative "Brads" and "Emilys" throughout the design and development cycles. This resulted in numerous refinements to the design.

The resulting C6 Cytometer and CFlow software are so robust that they can be ordered with overnight delivery and shipped with quick start documentation. Unlike competing products - which may require a specialist to setup the cytometer, followed by several days of training - C6 users self-install and are capable of running samples within an hour.

Involving Menlo was a critical ingredient to Accuri's success, according to Jennifer Baird, former President and CEO of Accuri Cytometers. "I simply don't think we could have done what needed to be done without involving Menlo in this process," says Baird, "Certainly not with the success we've had and not nearly as quickly as we did."