2020+1 | January 04, 20215 min read
by Enis Afgan
Reflections on 2020
2020 was tumultuous to say the least. At GalaxyWorks, we adapted and made the most of it. Check out our learnings, takeaways, and highlights.

As I look to the emerging 2021, I’d like to reflect on 2020 and summarize the accomplishments of the GalaxyWorks team. Despite the global challenges and issues that have permeated every aspect of our society’s routine, GalaxyWorks has made great strides in product development, solving challenges Galaxy users face, and engaging with the broader Galaxy community. I’d like to take you through these accomplishments and give you a glimpse of what’s coming up in 2021.

The early days

As 2020 began, we started the NIH I-Corps class in earnest. I-Corps is a customer discovery program that helps early-stage startups better understand their product-market fit by interviewing at least 100 potential users to learn about their routines and needs. While these are intended to be in-person interviews, about half way through our class, we had to switch to Zoom as COVID-19 became a world-wide reality and the travel associated with our class got cut short. Ultimately, we reached 110 interviews and, besides the amazing people we met, the main takeaways for the future product development were: (1) users want to be able to obtain biologically significant answers quickly without dealing with infrastructure, software, or tool details, and (2) the observation that the Galaxy software has permeated just about every part of the genomics industry, including academic labs, industry, and the government.

Our first product: Galaxy Pro

Equipped with the I-Corps findings, we launched Galaxy Pro in April - our fully managed installation of Galaxy that frees users from the complexities of software and hardware management. Without usage quotas and the scalability of the cloud, experimentalists are able to analyze their data more quickly. To mark the availability of the new service, we also launched our company website, galaxyworks.io. Although websites are always work-in-progress (more on this later), the core information is available. The success of our product launch was evident by having signed a couple of early customers and starting to build those relationships. Continuing in this vein, we have started a webinar series where we will be highlighting Galaxy Pro capabilities using real-world examples. You can see the recording of the first webinar on our YouTube channel, and sign up for the next webinar on analyzing ONT data slated for Jan 26.

Growth

As the need for GalaxyWorks started to grow, we also grew as a team. Following the completion of the I-Corps, where Stephanie Pond was our “industry expert”, she joined GalaxyWorks as a Chief Scientific Officer and has been instrumental in identifying domain solutions for the customers and broader product development. Additionally, Nathan Roach joined as a computational biologist and our first full-time employee! Having just obtained his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins for developing novel methods for analyzing nanopore data, Nathan is crafting our Pro Workflows as a key element of the Galaxy Pro experience and enabling users to start meaningful analyses within minutes.

Looking ahead

With the new knowledge about the market, a new product, new team members, and new customers, we were ripe with ideas on how to take GalaxyWorks and Galaxy Pro to the next level. To help implement these ideas on a timely scale, we need to scale further and have hence applied for three federal funding grants. While we wait on the reviews for those applications, we are starting to pursue those ideas piecemeal, which brings me to the future and what can we expect in 2021.

Most relevant to the future customers is that we will be expanding our product offering! Our current, dedicated and customizable Galaxy Pro service will become known as Galaxy Pro Organization. We will be introducing Galaxy Pro Researcher - a lower cost option using shared infrastructure with no quotas and no queue wait time, enabling researchers to get their data analyzed more quickly. The Researcher product will be accompanied with an all-new dashboard on our website offering visibility in the services available and system usage.

Complementing the ability to get biologically significant results in less time, we will be rolling out Pro Workflows Library - a set of high-quality workflows that are ready for use and allow the user to focus on experimental design and result interpretation instead of selecting individual tools, tool versions, and figuring out how to appropriately link those. The initial set of Pro Workflows will include RNA-Seq, ONT variant calling, and ILMN variant calling. If you have a need for other workflows, just let us know. Lastly, we are working with the Galaxy Project to better align the effort with the users’ needs. As a first step in this direction, Galaxy Pro was recently recommended by the Galaxy Project as one of the key Galaxy offerings (watch the webinar recording). While there are plenty more improvements coming (so stay tuned to this brand new blog), these are likely to have the biggest impact on our users and the future of Galaxy Pro.

With that, I’d like to wish you a safe and joyful season and the happiest and healthiest 2021.

©2021, GalaxyWorks LLC