Case Study

Meenta Accelerates COVID-19 Testing and Reporting with Flatfile Data Importer

Elizabeth Bukys

Posted 2/22/2021

Biotech, life sciences, and other high-tech companies often need expensive instruments to conduct research and carry out testing. The problem? They don’t have a use for this equipment all the time, so it often sits idle. If shared properly, this available bandwidth could be used by many different companies, reducing their need to buy the equipment themselves. The obstacle is that companies with available equipment and the companies that need to use that equipment can’t easily connect.

Meenta was founded as a way to solve that problem by striving to make every scientific instrument in the world universally accessible. Recent advances in scientific equipment don’t have the impact that they should have because the infrastructure required to access these technologies simply does not exist. Meenta decided to create an infrastructure on which science can be more scalable with increased liquidity

“We think of ourselves as the Airbnb for science equipment,” said Stephan Smith, co-founder and CTO of Meenta. “Just as people rent available housing space that the owners aren’t using, we match up unused equipment time with those organizations who need it.”

Meenta provides biotech companies and academia the ability to outsource services while offering contract research organizations (CROs) and other instrument owners a way to maximize the use of its equipment.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Meenta expanded their platform  to help employers, universities, schools, organizations and families access affordable testing options from a range of clinical laboratories and diagnostic companies with guaranteed results in 24-48 hours.

“We took everything that we built as a marketplace for the research side and applied it to the clinical side,” said Smith. “We added HIPAA compliance and began focusing on helping labs scale up to offer more COVID-19 testing.”

Meenta makes a critical buy vs build decision for importing data

The Meenta platform needs to be able to support the importing of around 15,000 to 20,000 testing data records a month. They attempted to solve the data import challenge by building their own data importer.

“We built an importer to handle our data ingestion needs but it was not ideal,” said Smith. “We ran into the usual import problems such as customers choosing the wrong column, linking data improperly, incorrect mapping, and data coming in with foreign language characters.”

After meeting with Flatfile, Smith realized that buying a comprehensive data import solution was a better choice than using an in-house system.

“Developers always like to make things, but it doesn’t make sense when someone else has exactly what you need and it works much better,” said Smith. “Our importer got canned within a week of finding the Flatfile data importer. We implemented and integrated Flatfile within a few days and I told my developers to get rid of the one we built - which we were proud of - until we saw the Flatfile data importer.”

Meenta customers benefit from the Flatfile data importer

The Flatfile data importer has been a key driver of customer satisfaction for Meenta.

“I can present Flatfile’s data importer to my customers and I’m confident that it will make us look good,” said Smith. “With COVID-19, we have hundreds of universities coming on and if I use a bad solution, I’ll feel the pain in my support line which will light up like a Christmas tree.

“We find that every human error that can occur, does occur when you don’t have a structured way to move data fluidly,” Smith continued. “We now tell people they can upload an Excel file and grab whatever tab they want and pull the columns in and they look at me like I just invented the wheel. I have to tell them it’s not us, it’s Flatfile.”

Flatfile helps Meenta accelerate the COVID-19 testing process

The Flatfile data importer has helped Meenta achieve the goal of rapidly accelerating the testing process, something critically needed in the time of the pandemic.“ Companies like Flatfile have been the secret sauce that has allowed us to rapidly implement our public platform,” said Smith. “I was on a call recently and realized we needed the ability to import tracking numbers for our test labs to accelerate getting tests to labs faster. Within an hour of the call, we rolled out the Flatfile data importer and started importing hundreds of tracking codes at once so we could identify where things were. We were able to report back to the client in an hour. That’s not something we could have ever done with a hand-built importer.”

Meenta also helps labs generate mandatory COVID-19 test reports to allow state and federal government bodies to track the spread of the disease. “Importing data to be able to report back to the states about COVID-19 numbers and how they are changing at the county and local level would normally be a year-long data science project,” said Smith. “Using tools like Flatfile and others allow us to report in days and hours versus months and years.”

Cost reduction implications with Flatfile

Controlling costs is a major issue for any startup, and for a tech company, every line of code comes with a cost. Developing a solution, supporting it, and fixing bugs all add to the cost of ownership.

Meenta estimates that using Flatfile has saved the company at least three to four months of development time and the equivalent of the cost of one full time developer. As a fast growing company, Meenta can easily put the resources that would have been dedicated to a data importer and use them in a more effective way.  

“The fewer lines of code we have to support, the lower our cost,” said Smith.

Meenta impressed with the Flatfile data importer

“I’m glad I’m not building and supporting a data importer,” said Smith. “Every developer who’s been around for five years has built his or her own importer and thought they got it right, but none of them want to go back and fix problems in the system they have created.

“I probably built this importer seven or eight times at scale and hated it every single time. It’s like cleaning bathrooms,” Smith summed up. “It’s nice when it’s clean but it’s going to get dirty again. When it comes to importing files, it will work well for a little while and then it breaks again. When you buy the Flatfile data importer solution, you never have to worry about that happening. It’s simple: don’t build a data importer, buy it.”

About Meenta

Meenta is the leading platform for on-demand access to scientific and clinical testing equipment. Meenta’s platform helps simplify transactions by creating a global virtual network of research services and clinical tests available on-demand. Our customers can order a variety of test kits, instruments, and supplies from hundreds of labs nationwide. Meenta has rapidly adapted its technology platform to connect COVID-19 testing labs with employers and health care partners to streamline access to clinical testing. To learn more, visit https://meenta.io


About Flatfile
Flatfile's vision is to enable seamless data transactions between every organization in the world. With AI-assisted data onboarding, they eliminate repetitive work and make B2B data exchange fast, intuitive, and error-free. Flatfile automatically learns how imported data should be structured and cleaned, enabling customers and teams to spend more time using their data instead of fixing it. Flatfile has transformed over 700 million rows of data for companies like ClickUp, Blackbaud, Benevity, and Toast. To learn more about Flatfile's products, Portal and Concierge, email hello@flatfile.io or get started for free at flatfile.io.

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