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Local Startup Spotlight: S2 Media

It may seem like an old-fashioned recipe, but the combination of a high quality product and reliable customer service was the catalyst for culture media manufacturer S2 Media’s launch. Add to the mix the Pacific Northwest’s zeal for buying local and the producers of agar-filled plates for microbiological testing had found their sweet spot.

The S2 Media management team of Stephanie Bernards, Sommer Teague, and Molly Paridon first met as co-workers at Jubilant HollisterStier, local manufacturer of drug products, where they regularly handled culture media for testing purposes. “Sometimes we would find insects in the media” Stephanie says, commenting on the unreliable quality or the sometimes incorrect shipments they’d receive from manufacturers. It was in both this inconsistency of a finely-tuned product, and the lack of a culture media manufacturer in the northwest, that Stephanie and her colleagues saw an opportunity.

The trio went through the business development process – writing a business plan, calculating budgets, forecasting growth – largely on their own, opening S2 Media in November, 2015 after securing a small business loan from Mountain West Bank. “We weren’t aware of the different resources available to people starting businesses” Stephanie remarked about one of the biggest struggles they faced as entrepreneurs. In addition, Stephanie identified an unrealistic expectation of conversion time for clients as another complication the company faced. “A lot of factors play into it, but clients can go six months or longer between asking for a quote and placing an order. That timeframe was longer than we had anticipated.”

No startup is without its struggles, and in spite of those faced by S2 Media, they’ve fared quite well. Citing the adaptability and well-roundedness of the three person management team, Stephanie paints a bright picture for the company’s future. “In the next few years we hope to grow both in the products we offer and the size of our team.” S2 Media is hoping to expand operations by adding high speed filling lines for larger orders. Additionally, the company has been networking with local institutions to ensure they identify and recruit qualified talent as the company continues to grow.

When asked what advice she would offer to entrepreneurs early in their business ventures, Stephanie says “don’t lose the vision and excitement you have. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day operations when your business is up and running, but if you can keep the fire burning inside you, you’ll always enjoy what you do.”

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