As an instrument company, sales is a major driver of growth for Fluicell. The year that passed brought many challenges for advancing sales but was also a year where Fluicell greatly expanded its presence on important markets and where the company increased its revenues by 88 per cent despite the pandemic. BioStock spoke with Fluicell’s Chief Sales Officer Matija Rojnik to learn more about the current situation at the company, its strategy for further increasing sales, as well as the importance of having a strong sales team.
The year-end report that Fluicell released on February 24, revealed an increase in revenue by 88 per cent for 2020 compared to 2019, reaching 4.9 MSEK. This figure is further increased to 10.3 MSEK (+300 per cent) if yet to be invoiced agreements are also included. The result reflects the company’s increased sales activities during last year, a lot of which were focused on establishing Fluicell’s 3D bioprinter Biopixlar, which was launched right at the end of 2019. The interest for the 3D bioprinter is growing at a high pace and Biopixlar is planned to become the primary growth engine for Fluicell going forward. Read more about Biopixlar and a summary of Fluicell’s 2020 activities here.
The company’s sales strategy is heavily reliant on meetings with potential customers, and travels for showcasing those products to universities and research institutions. Those activities were, of course, limited by the pandemic, and this impacted the overall sales numbers during 2020. However, during 2020, Fluicell was able to sign several distributions agreements across Europe and internationally, including Swift Analytical Ltd in the UK, AXT Pty Ltd in Australia and New Zealand, and Beijing E-science Co.,Ltd in China, giving the company access to major markets around the world.
Beijing E-science Co. is Fluicell’s third distributor agreement in China. This list also includes Beijing Longfujia Life Sciences Ltd, through which Fluicell received a purchase order for a BioPen System from the prominent Chongqing Xinqiao University Hospitalearlier this year. Overall, this purchase order along with the signing of a new distribution agreement are signs of the strong interest in Fluicell’s products within China, and they give a hint of the significant market potential for Fluicell in the expanding Chinese market.
Sales strategy for 2021
With many important puzzle pieces put in place in 2020, Fluicell is now focusing on increasing its sales efforts even further during 2021. This year has also featured the release of Biozone 6, the latest product announced by the company, which was launched on March 15. Read more about Biozone 6 here.
BioStock spoke with Fluicell’s Chief Sales Officer Matija Rojnik to learn more about the company’s sales strategy moving forward and how big a role the sales team plays in providing growth for the company.
»We have a strong sales portfolio right now with many interesting potential deals. Based on this, and our increased presence on the major important markets through distributor agreements and research projects, I believe that we can expect a substantial increase in sales over the coming years« — Matija Rojnik, Chief Sales Officer, Fluicell.
Matija Rojnik, as Chief Sales Officer, what is your main role at Fluicell?
– Fluicell’s Sales Team is the gateway between the company and customers. We are working on finding new opportunities, presenting our solutions, understanding customer needs, finding the win-win deals, as well as looking to provide the best service possible for existing customers. My role is to oversee all these processes, grow the business and the level of our service.
Sales is obviously a major contributor to Fluicell’s growth as a business. What is your strategy for maintaining a strong sales team and do you expect the team to grow in 2021?
– I believe that in every team a collaborative culture and mutual respect are the most important factors for success. It does not matter how great we are individually, what is important is how good can we work as a team. We try to use everyone’s strengths for the better of the team and we all continuously grow and learn, lots of times through our own mistakes.
– Regarding the growth of the team, we grow organically when we identify we need help. With the business projected to grow in the coming years we will certainly be looking to continuously expand our team based on needs that we will have.
Biopixlar seems to have the potential to be the main driver of sales for Fluicell. Why is that? And what are your expectations for Biozone 6 sales which was launched recently?
– The bioprinting field is growing in popularity amongst researchers because it enables exciting possibilities in terms of how new biological tissues can be generated. Biopixlar adds a completely new dimension to this field with its precision of cell printing which is unmatched by competitive solutions. Therefore, there is no surprise that we see very strong interest in our Biopixlar platform. We are currently working with several research groups who are looking for funding opportunities to add Biopixlar to their toolbox and we are very optimistic about the growth development of this business.
– Biozone 6 was a missing piece in our single-cell compound delivery portfolio, and its positioned perfectly between the Biopen and Dynaflow products. It enables very localized delivery of 6 compound solutions, which is something that customers working in pharmacological research (e.g., drug dose responses) have been asking about. We now have a complementary portfolio of single-cell solution delivery systems which we can present to customers interested in these applications.
Fluicell has signed several distribution agreements in 2020 covering not only the European market, but also large international markets, including Australia, New Zealand, and China. How important are such agreements for Fluicell and can we expect more in 2021?
– These partners are very important because they enable us to cover markets much broader and deeper than we would be able to do with our internal team on a global scale. Therefore, we work with trusted partners to complement our internal sales activities. Another important reason for partnering with local sales partners is their pre-existing knowledge and networks in local markets, as well as preference sometime from customers to deal with local representatives. We are assessing on a continuous basis where we have gaps in our market coverage and continuously on the lookout for opportunities to partner with local distributors in identified regions. We apply a very thorough process when we go about selecting our partners, and we want to ensure a great fit between both parties so putting any timelines on it is not always on our mind. We prioritize quality and fit, over speed.
Are there any other major markets, e.g., the US, where Fluicell would like to focus on?
– We want to have strong presence in markets with high levels of innovative biomedical research. These focus markets are Europe, US and areas in Asia-Pacific. We work with global presence in mind, rather than focus all our resources in a single area. One reason for this strategy is also that these markets are different in terms of sales processes, budgeting and logistics, so it is not possible to simply copy a successful market penetration from one area to another, we need to develop them separately.
How strong will the push be to further penetrate the Chinese market moving forward?
– China is absolutely an important market for us which we plan to expand further as indicated by our recent press release. We will continue to have a strong focus on the Chinese market, however, in line with my previous answer we are not planning on putting China as a main focus at the expense of other important markets such as US and Europe. Also, China is a difficult market to penetrate. Sales cycles are very long and follow a very specific procedure including bidding processes. We have now starting to sell several BioPen systems in China, one of them being sold to a KOL. This is a very important step, since strong customer references often play a very important role in many purchasing decisions in the Chinese market.
Finally, could you give us some insights on the company’s overall sales strategy for 2021?
– Our sales strategy for 2021 is an evolution of what we have done and learned in previous years. We are continuously assessing and optimizing our activities, positioning, markets, opportunities, and processes. We strive to fix things that do not work well, discontinue activities that do not bring results, and obviously carry over everything which we believe is helping us on sales execution. 2020 has brought us and everyone else in the field a big shock because our normal sales activities and processes have been abruptly cut. Specifically, conferences, networking, on-site visits and demos which are the backbone of our activities have suddenly been impossible to execute. We had to completely reimagine how we work, and I believe we have adapted successfully. Most of our work is currently done either virtually or through local partners, however, some external challenges are still remaining. Nevertheless, it looks like these Corona-related restrictions will be eased within the next few months and I believe we will see a greater speed of growth of our business when our customers come back to laboratories in bigger numbers.
– We have a strong sales portfolio right now with many interesting potential deals. Based on this, and our increased presence on the major important markets through distributor agreements and research projects, I believe that we can expect a substantial increase in sales over the coming years.