Meet the startup on a mission to revolutionise lab work and aid scientific breakthroughs

Updated: Jun 26, 2019

Our #OX1throwback series features a selection of the students, ventures and founders from our vibrant OX1 Incubator community: their challenges, triumphs, and aspirations.

Reza Rohani is Co-Founder and Team Lead at Coli, a startup that has created a software tool for scientists to simplify their lab workflows. With a team of Reza, Stefan Leape and Sebald Verkuijl, Coli is on a mission to prevent science being held back by the way scientists manage their lab work. The company was part of the latest cohort of the OX1 Incubator programme and won the Grand Prize of £5,000.

Reza, why did you join OX1 Incubator, and how has it helped your development as an entrepreneur?

I joined with a desire to solve a problem I had noticed in lab workflows, but only a vague idea of how to do so. 12 weeks later I have gained not only two fantastic co-founders with a viable product and business, but also newly-acquired skills in product development, business strategy, team management and pitching (among others). None of this would have happened without OX1 Incubator, which provided the environment and support needed to develop entrepreneurial but inexperienced students into early stage startup teams.

What was the main value-add from the OX1 Incubator?

The programme of workshops delivered by startup founders, investors and advisors was excellent in its content and structure. The workshops covered all the main entrepreneurship topics, from product market fit to pitching and incorporation, and allowed teams to receive tailored feedback through interactive components. Personal favourite workshops included those by Matt Clifford on Customer Development, and by Tom Carrington Smith on Product Development. The order and timing of the workshops mapped closely to our own progression, with workshops on dealing with particular challenges often coinciding exactly with when we faced them.

How did the broader OX1 Incubator community improve your experience?

Beyond the formal workshops, OX1 provided excellent value through its network. The broad engagement of OX1 with a diverse cohort provided a range of opinions which were willing to challenge and complemenr own. Also, every workshop leader we approached for help generously offered their time and expertise. We were very lucky to be mentored by Niamh Gavin, who has helped us with various aspects of our product, business and pitch. The network of potential co-founders and mentors may be OX1’s most lasting value-add.

What does the future hold for Coli?

The £5,000 Grand Prize will help us take our startup to the next step and to develop our MVP. But we are far from the only team who will continue work on their startup after OX1: in fact, every other team I have spoken is also intent to keep on going to create their venture. Without a doubt, OX1 Incubator has been one of my most instructive experiences at either Oxford or Cambridge!

Thanks Reza - and congratulations!

OX1 Incubator has three missions: nurture aspiring entrepreneurial talent, give a platform for building startups during university, and raise awareness of entrepreneurship as a career path. Share our #vision? Potential #entrepreneur, #mentor or #sponsor, or just want to stay in the loop? Sign up to our mailing list at to get exclusive updates about OX1 Incubator.

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