• 09-24-2007: The San Diego Business Journal

    Confirm Biosciences Has the Heads Up on Market for Hair Drug Tests 



    By Emily Knight
    San Diego Business Journal
    September 24, 2007

    New Product Developed in Response to Consumer Demand

    Zeynep Ilgaz says the key to the success of her drug testing company, Confirm BioSciences, is simple: She kept her ear to the ground and filled an unmet demand in the market. The company started from her garage in 2001 and has expanded to make $2.6 million in revenues in the last year, making it No. 3 on the San Diego Business Journal’s List of Fastest-Growing Private Companies.

    An important part of this growth includes the launch of a product called HairConfirm, which offers customers the ability to get a professional lab screening for drug use from home. HairConfirm is targeted to parents looking for a way to easily and accurately determine if their teens are using drugs. Before the product’s launch just over two months ago, there was no similar service available, but Ilgaz said the response has been enthusiastic. Confirm BioSciences had been in the business of workplace drug testing before, but their new product is the first hair follicle
    drug test kit in the market that can detect drug use as well as usage frequency for up to 90 days.

    Ilgaz said her business will continue to grow on the principles of innovation and serving client needs first. “It’s really about listening to market demand and making a product based on that, and not trying to generate demand first,” she said.

    Critical Feedback
    She noted that Confirm BioSciences’ advisory board was instrumental in tailoring HairConfirm to customers’ preferences. Since the product occupies a unique niche, this kind of feedback
    was critical. “Our strong point is listening to our customers, listening to their needs, and using that to always improve our product,” Ilgaz said. “We went one step further and talked to our customers at length to see what type of features they would like to have in the product — like a full drug history report, a 90-day detection period, and fast online results.”

    HairConfirm has been such a success that Confirm BioSciences is already taking it to major retailers. The company has signed deals with Kmart, Amazon.com, and CVS.com, and she said she is in talks with other large retail chains such as Walgreens. The company is also in the process of developing other kinds of test kits, such as a saliva-based drug test and a hair-based test for toxins and “general health”. These are all part of long-term plans to serve a much larger market, according to Ilgaz.

    Another important long-term goal is the continuation of the company’s philanthropy. It has made financial and in-kind contributions to the Alpha Project for the Homeless, San Diego Youth and Community Services, Teen Challenge International, Volunteers of America, the Alcohol & Drug Services Center and the Department of Education. Ilgaz sees the expansion of this side of her business as an important complement to product development. Dedicated To Philanthropy Confirm BioSciences’ dedication to philanthropy isn’t surprising when you hear Ilgaz talk about what San Diego and its business community mean to her. She notes that being the owner of a small business has given her access to a variety of local support services and resources.

    Local law firm Mintz Levin has been especially important in providing Confirm BioSciences with public relations services, she said. Ilgaz is also involved with several entrepreneurial networks,
    including those at San Diego State University and UC San Diego. Ilgaz emphasizes how important her family has been for her while developing her business. “I learned that a good business partnership works like a good marriage”, she said, also noting that her husband of 10 years, Serhat Pala, has been one of the most influential people in the process. “I’m a hard worker and I’m dedicated to my business and my family.”

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    Categories: HairConfirm In the News

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