Dave Alburty is the CEO of AlburtyLab and of InnovaPrep, related companies headquartered on Main Street in Drexel, MO, a town of about 1,000 population. Dave says he was an entrepreneur starting at about age 5. His family lived next to a golf course, and he sold found balls for 5 to 25 cents in the ’60s when you could buy three new golf balls for one dollar. In addition to making money, Dave says that he has always enjoyed interacting with people.
His father was in electrical engineering at McDonnell in St. Louis and “enjoyed inventing things”; he was a co-inventor of the flight simulator. Dave recalls that his father and mother were both visionaries, his mother also an excellent pianist. He has two brothers, and both enjoy “inventing things”. His older brother is in the robotics field and invented a motorbike with a front-wheel drive. His younger brother is a high-school science teacher who makes more money than his salary from selling large-flush toilet parts from an online company called Toilets’N Stuff.
Dave graduated from selling golf balls to a newspaper route, mowing lawns, shoveling snow, and doing a variety of odd jobs. He worked his way through college, which took him 13 years because he had such a wide-ranging curiosity–courses covering German, environmental studies, biological sciences, chemical engineering, business administration and many others. Along the way he obtained an associates degree in entrepreneurial studies. From 1983 to 1996, he worked in Root Dental Labs in Kansas City and played a leadership role in dental implants. He also worked in the Midwest Research Institute (MRI) from 1990 to 2005, starting as an Assistant Scientist in 1993 when he finally obtained his BS in Biological Sciences, having amassed a total of 276 course credits.
In 2005, Dave left MRI to establish AlburtyLab Inc. in a somewhat unusual way. He bought The Cabin, a 12’x 24’ building developed by a Mennonite group that consisted of 2x4s and a sheet metal exterior that was deposited on a foundation in his backyard. He turned it into an aerosol research and development lab that undertook aerosol testing and evaluation projects, the first and then others that were too small for MRI to handle. From 2005 to 2009, his company did quality control testing for oil pumps on motorcycles until the work was outsourced to China.
Innovation has been the critical factor in Dave’s success. In 2009, with partner Andy Page, InnovaPrep was formed with this mission:
“Our mission is to be a world-class provider of cutting-edge solutions for rapid sample collection, preparation and concentration that bridge the gap between the laboratory and real world environments.”
Dave serves as Chairman & CEO, and Andy is President & CTO of a company that was selected as Missouri’s 2010 Technology Company of the Year. Here is how InnovaPrep, now with a total of 15 employees, describes its business activities:
“InnovaPrep is engaged in biotechnology product development, sales, service, and related technology out-licensing.
InnovaPrep’s core business is biological sample collection and sample preparation. The company is commercializing a collection of market-disruptive technologies for rapid, automated concentration of biological particles. InnovaPrep is a high-functioning company poised for rapid growth.”
“InnovaPrep’s seven patents center on highly-efficient recovery of biological particles including DNA, bacteria, viruses, molds and proteins from filters, membranes, surfaces, and objects. The primary utility for these technologies is to greatly improve the way biological samples, especially those containing pathogenic organisms, are prepared for analysis beyond the state-of-the-art. This advance is 150 years overdue.”