Where designers make a difference: Five reasons Benchling is the ideal company for impact-driven designers

Tommy Li

What is the ideal company for you? Having an idea of the answer can determine whether or not you’re speaking to the right company. Is the company offering you a seat on a rocket ship? Are you looking for a specific type of culture? What about the designers and other people that you work with? In the end, what will being successful in your role mean, to the company, to its customers, and, if you're lucky, to the world?

In trying to build a world-class design team here at Benchling, I’ve asked this question to every one of the 200+ candidates that I’ve spoken to. The response is almost always a consideration of the following five concerns:

  1. Find a compelling market opportunity-What industry is a company in? Is it a relevant or an emerging industry? What is the company doing in the market, and are they seeing a lot of success?

  2. Join a place with a good culture -Is it open and transparent? Is it hierarchical and stifling? Does design have a seat at the table?

  3. Be part of the team -Is it diverse? How will I learn? Can I grow into a leader? Will I have fun working with these people everyday?

  4. Have an impactful scope -Will I work on something impactful? Will it be important to our customers? Will I learn and grow as a designer?

  5. Contribute to a meaningful mission -If I’m successful, what will it mean to our customers? What type of impact could our product have?

If some or all of these matter to you, then I think you’ll want to learn more about what’s happening at Benchling. We have a pretty unique response to each one of these areas.

Market Opportunity

The world has learned a lot about the impact of science during the pandemic, but the innovations in biotech are serving a much broader purpose. Recent breakthroughs have revolutionized how we treat diseases, how we create sustainable foods, how we respond to the threat of climate change, and so much more. Companies are constantly sprouting to tackle some of these tremendous problems with new scientific approaches — but there’s one question they all seek. How can they find a solution faster than the closest competitor?

Software has long been a transformative accelerant to industries. Does anyone want to drop their CRM solution and go back to paper? How about abandoning your HCM software? Almost every industry is leveraging innovative software to enhance productivity, find new insights into challenging problems, and automate workflows to achieve speed at scale. So why are we still conducting science on paper and spreadsheets?

Benchling is software for the scientists and organizations who are leading the future of biotechnology. We enable our customers to accelerate the pace at which they can adopt new scientific technologies, gain insight on an ever-increasing amount of data, and ultimately bring their products to market.


In the early days at Benchling, the founders were recruiting for top tech talent to execute on their vision. Looking only for individuals with a life sciences background would’ve been and still is a very shallow talent pool. What was important then and now is that the talent was built against some key principles that continue on today:

  • Unite around the mission.We seek candidates who are passionate about solving humanity’s most pressing challenges with science. Finding passionate individuals to contribute in this space fuels the creation of differentiated solutions.

  • Obsess over our customers.In order to build something that is both impactful and meaningful, candidates need to be intensely focused and committed to how our customers work and the change they need to be more productive.

  • Think and communicate clearly.Solving an old problem in a new way is hard work. Looking at legacy solutions is a dead end and new ideas require change management. To work through these ideas, we need creative problem solvers and strong critical thinkers.

These timeless principles mean that the growing design team is constantly surrounded by colleagues who are active participants in the work that we do. The collective thirst to understand and serve our users with empathy and humility isn’t one that exists solely with design but something that is embodied by our extended teams. Product, design, and engineering engage with our customers early on to understand their science. When it’s time to make tough calls about what we need to build and how it needs to work, design is augmented by the number of people aware of and invested in ensuring we are truly building something that works.


When I joined Benchling, the design team had to be built from the ground up. Initially, my goal was to attract T-shaped product designers to own vast parts of the product with ownership and support. The founding design team came from diverse backgrounds but shared one thing in common — they had all achieved tremendous success working on enterprise products.

As we continue to evolve and grow, we’re moving into a phase that is optimized for predictability, consistency, maturity, and scale. The team will likely triple in the next 18 months, bringing in the most talented user researchers, designers, and leaders to shepherd our mission. Together we will learn about our customers, augment each other’s ideas through collaboration, and grow as designers. And we’ll have fun!


Growth is often a priority for design candidates. Typically, it is the combination of working on a complex problem and ownership over an impactful area in a team that is continuously challenging itself to evolve in the way we work. There are three ways we serve this need.

  1. It’s science— and science is often not familiar. But it is extremely relevant and it’s uniquely important. We aren’t reading textbooks here but we are learning about science from our customers and internal subject matter experts.

  2. We’re pioneering a space.While we make extensive use of enterprise design patterns, it’s hard to find another solution to reference. Disrupting a space is hard, but it’s also exciting!

  3. We’re still in the formative stages of our team.This means designers coming in will own a mission critical area of the platform and, more importantly, will be influential in building our future team.


We are currently confronting some of the most urgent issues of our time: a global pandemic, social injustices, and a seemingly unstoppable climate problem. It’s increasingly desirable to connect the work we do as designers to something that is serving the greater good. If we build a great product, our customers will succeed, and when they succeed, the world will change in meaningful ways. We know the decisions that we make and the work that we do is transforming the mission critical work of our customers, and we find inspiration in that goal every day.

If you’re intrigued, then we invite you explore the openings we have in the design team. An exciting new journey could begin with a simple lift of a finger. Join me at Benchling.

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