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Traveling Man

Bala Manian founded a slew of companies in the United States. Now, with ReaMetrix, he�s taking his business expertise to India.

Dr. Bana Manian; Copyright © 2003 Acumen Sciences, LLC, All Rights Reserved.

In a career spanning two continents, several scientific disciplines, and more than three decades, Bala Manian has proven himself a serial entrepreneur who pays little heed to boundaries. In disciplines as varied as optics and life sciences, he created several successful businesses and, along the way, managed to help invent the first under-the-counter supermarket bar code scanner and to garner an Academy Award for special effects technology. More recently, Dr. Manian launched a new endeavor that has him returning to his native country, India. While others may not know where his path is leading, Dr. Manian does.

Typically, Dr. Manian prefers to be the founding or seed investor in scientific ideas he finds intriguing. He is an engineer by training and received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, studying optics at Purdue University. He has no consistent investing partners, and his cofounders have varied, along with his notions for new ventures. As his strengths lie in early-stage development, whenever one of his companies goes public, Dr. Manian usually resigns from the board of directors, though he maintains significant financial interests in the companies. “I�ll lower my stake for diversification purposes, but I never get completely out until I have to,” he explains.

His most recent venture is ReaMetrix, a tiny company that develops reagents, or substances that, because of their chemical and biological activity, are used by cell biologists for research. ReaMetrix has two wet labs: one in Bangalore, India, with ten employees, and another in San Carlos, California, with four. He�s taking Silicon Valley startup tactics—such as giving employees ownership in the company where they work—across the ocean and applying them in India, through ReaMetrix. Though he was the only seed investor in ReaMetrix, he exchanged some of his equity in the company to obtain the lab in India.