“Not one company has what we have,” Guido Baechler says. It’s a bold statement, but Baechler isn’t at all off base. He’s the president and CEO of Singulex, the innovator, developer, and leading provider of single molecule counting technology for clinical diagnostics and scientific discovery. In layman’s terms—and the aspect that the CEO refers to as the company’s critical differentiator—Singulex’s technology enables physicians and scientists to detect biomarkers for previously undetectable diseases.
Generally speaking, a biomarker is an indicator of the level or presence of a disease. Biomarkers are considered incredibly useful, allowing physicians to measure the progress of a disease, which enables them to offer the most effective treatment options for diseases such as cancer. Singulex’s single molecule counting (SMC) technology detects what are referred to as “low-abundance biomarkers” with unmatched accuracy.
Thanks to this cutting-edge technology, researchers and physicians can detect and monitor changes in extremely low levels of established disease biomarkers such as cytokines, which indicate infection, inflammation, and cancer, among other illnesses.
“When you are the only company to have this technology, by default, you are also the first company to have this technology,” Baechler says. “To me, our technology is so primary, but what must come with that powerful technology is integrity. Integrity is the key to our company. When you’re a small startup, which we still are, you have to be agile and strategic. We’re also honest and transparent.”
Singulex is developing new products all the time. Sometimes the products are not as weighty as being able to detect cancer, but they still make big differences in the lives of patients. Baechler is deeply invested in these products in a way that goes beyond his role as CEO. When his twins were born prematurely, for example, hearing them wail when their blood was drawn by nurses was an incredibly painful process for both the children, Baechler, and his wife, but now Singulex is on the cusp of developing a product that will make the process of drawing blood decidedly easier.
“What we’re working on is a product that allows you to draw blood without the use of large needles. Drawing blood can be a painful process for everyone, but especially for the children and elderly,” Baechler says. “Frankly, who wants to have a large need stuck into their arm to collect blood for lab tests? Our product is unique, and honestly, it will revolutionize the way blood is collected in doctor’s offices.”
Instead of a large needle, tubes, and large amounts of blood, it will be a single finger prick—a tiny amount of blood resulting in no pain, according to the CEO. Thanks to the SMC technology, Singulex will be able to detect many biomarkers with a single drop of blood. “It’s a game changer,” Baechler says.
Leading the way in technology is one thing, but Baechler’s other primary concern is being a good leader to his team and cultivating an environment that is collaborative. He says there was no one thing that prepared him for his leadership roles at Singulex, but rather a combination of experiences in previous roles that helped him develop his reputation as a problem solver. He says he sees it as his job to get things done, no matter how challenging or impossible they may seem.
“You can only do so much, but when you’re open to input from others; when you listen and wait for your turn to talk or don’t talk over others; when you’re fully present, you can always come up with something better than you thought,” Baechler says. Being a trusted leader, the CEO, comes with a lot of accountability. How does Baechler ensure he’s held accountable? He hires people who want his job, literally.
“What better way to ensure you’re hiring an ambitious team member who won’t let you rest on your laurels,” Baechler says, laughing. “Some people might be afraid of hiring the best and the brightest out of fear that they’ll outshine you. If you’re secure in what you bring to the table, it’s not a problem—and I want to hire people who are smarter than me. I want to bring them in and remove any obstacles in their way—including myself. I like getting out of the way and letting smart people do their best work.”