By Amy Duncan, Goldfish Consulting, Inc.

In marketing, we often talk about transactional vs relational marketing. In simple terms, a business transaction is purely about making the sale; the exchange of money for value—i.e., a product or a service. A business relationship, however, goes beyond the initial transaction when both the buyer and the seller benefit from the success of each other. Through a partnership, the seller goes above and beyond to ensure their products help their customers grow their business and continue as customers. The buyer provides feedback to the seller to help the seller improve their services that benefit the customer. This continuous feedback loop builds relationships and trust that is especially important for small startup companies with limited budgets and resources.

Two SDEE member companies provide a perfect example of how they benefited from building a business relationship. At the time Crinetics Pharmaceuticals was founded in 2010, co-founder Scott Struthers also co-founded SDEE to connect with other entrepreneurs, in part to share startup advice, space, reagents, and equipment. With limited reagent funds from an SBIR grant, Ana Kusnetzow, PhD, Director of Biology at Crinetics, was responsible for identifying vendors and making purchases. She had already begun purchasing from a large supplier of life science reagents when she was approached by local startup, BioPioneer in March 2012. BioPioneer was founded by Daniel Gong, PhD, who was also a research scientist at one time and had his share of frustrations with large reagent companies. He started BioPioneer, as he says, “to help the little guys with no funding.” And that was the value he proposed to Ana. He offered to not only to beat their pricing, but also offer same- or next-day delivery and free samples to get her started. Four months later, impressed with the products and services, she completely switched to BioPioneer.













Over the years, the two companies have grown and expanded together. “When they first started to deliver to us, we only had one box on the van, now our orders take up the whole van!” explained Ana. Ana describes BioPioneer as a sister company, not just a supplier because they help with problem-solving and troubleshooting. “It’s important for small companies to have relationships with suppliers that are truly invested in supporting their business,” Ana said.

Ana and Daniel look forward to the monthly SDEE happy hours where they share ideas and enjoy the company of other like-minded entrepreneurs. It’s relationships like this that go beyond the simple sales transaction and enhance your experience as an entrepreneur and connect you to the community.