The story of AllCells begins with our Founder and President, Dr. Jay Tong. After completing his training as a hematologist, Dr. Tong began a career as a research scientist in the early 90’s. While working at Novartis-Systemix, he noticed a common pain-point amongst his peers: how to get starting materials for their projects? Many of them resorted to donating themselves or asking friends and family. Even with these substitutes they were never sure if they could get enough samples by the end of the day for their experiments. “Why is this such a frustrating process? Are there any commercial entities to help?” thought Dr. Tong. Before the time of internet searches, Dr. Tong asked around from colleagues and determining that no commercial sources existed, decided to do it himself.
Having no previous business background, Dr. Tong taught himself how to draft a business plan in order to approach VC’s for investment capital. These efforts proved fruitless and he began the endeavor by bootstrapping the company with his own savings. In order to figure out the market, Dr. Tong put together a scrappy survey and sent it to attendees of hematology conferences. The survey results were encouraging enough to motivate him to move further ahead with the idea.
He first needed a facility and decided to partner with a local hospital, Alta Bates in the Oakland area, by renting out space from their Bone Marrow Cryopreservation lab. It was May of 1998 and Dr. Tong had just quit his job with a family and mortgage to pay in order to pursue his vision of being the first commercial provider of hematological/immunological tissue and cells in the Bay Area.
For the first year in operation Dr. Tong was a one-person operation, handling everything from receiving orders to donor recruitment to cell isolation to shipping/delivery. AllCells first employee was hired in March of 2000 and several other key team members soon followed.
In 2006 AllCells moved to Emeryville, CA and expanded their laboratory space, its first facility outside of the hospital. As business continued to expand, the greater emphasis on custom cell isolations and custom orders led to the need for their own tissue collection facility, no longer relying on the hospital partnership. In July of 2007, LeukoLab, AllCells Clinical Division, was born two floors below their Emeryville lab space.
During the summer of 2009, Dr. Tong’s wife was diagnosed with cancer and he took time away from the business on a sabbatical. Returning in 2011 with a healthy family and renewed sense of purpose, Dr. Tong became more involved in operations at AllCells and brought on several key outside hires to help take the company to the next level. Learn more about our Leadership Team here.
In 2013 while celebrating the company’s 15th year in business, AllCells expanded its operations to their current 28,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility in Alameda, CA. The consolidated, expanded production laboratory and donor facility allows the company to provide best-in-class customization and lead times for primary cell products. Learn more about our facilities here.
Throughout this journey AllCells has kept in-line with Dr. Tong’s original vision to be the best primary cells source for researchers and the clinical community by always meeting customer demands and putting their needs first. ‘Working harder AND smarter’ is a mantra often repeated at AllCells that Dr. Tong relays to his employees when they first come on board.