Leading a small biotech business through rapid growth to a $38M acquisition

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Key points

  • In 2014, immune cell supplier Astarte Biologics leaned into integrated marketing, led by Clarity Quest, as the foundation of their growth strategy, starting with an e-commerce website and aggressive digital campaigns.
  • After growing revenue by 5X, Astarte made a strategic merger with Memphis-based Key Biologics to become a comprehensive biomaterials supplier, then rebranded the company as Cellero.
  • The market took notice of Cellero — less than two months after the brand launch, Charles River Laboratories acquired Cellero for $38 million, capping an amazing growth story for Astarte Biologics and Clarity Quest.

Cellero provides immune cells, blood products, biomaterials, and research services to pharmaceutical companies and academic research laboratories.

Company size

Mid-market before the acquisition
Enterprise after the acquisition

Marketing services provided

Part 1: Fueling high-volume growth

Astarte Biologics logoFounder and CEO of Seattle-based Astarte Biologics, Anne Lodge, Ph.D., knew her small immune cell products and research services company needed a leg up on the competition when she decided to leverage a full-service marketing agency with deep experience in biotechnology and life sciences.

In the first 4 years of our relationship, Clarity Quest helped Astarte increase brand awareness through continued strategic content creation and outreach programs and generate leads and conversions given there was no sales team. We also built a sophisticated inventory management system and launched a front-end e-commerce web store.


growing biotech revenues - beaker icon
Increased revenues by 5x
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Boosted organic search traffic by 600%
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Achieved attributable marketing ROI of 645%
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Helped Astarte successfully increase valuation for an equity event
Anne Lodge, Founder, Astarte

“I enjoy the enthusiasm of the CQ team in helping me grow my business. Clarity Quest effectively grew our biotechnology company by developing campaigns to engage and convert the top pharmaceutical companies in the world. Large pharmaceutical companies frequently compliment us on our marketing programs and branding.”

Anne Lodge, Ph.D., Founder | Astarte Biologics

Part 2: Positioning for market dominance and revenue growth

Astarte’s success drew the attention of several partners and investment firms, and in 2018 the company merged with a complementary business in Memphis-based Key Biologics, supplier of leukapheresis products and related collection services.

The combined entity knew they could take a powerful position in the market, but needed help defining their value proposition and go-to-market branding and communication strategy.

Leveraging our history with Astarte and subject matter expertise as life science marketers, we developed a comprehensive messaging and positioning platform to tell the company’s unique full-service story, named the new entity, and brought the brand to life with stunning visuals and award-winning website design. Cellero was born.

jeff allen

“I just want to express my gratitude for all the work the CQ team put into getting us to launch. We are all very excited about our new brand, and appreciate your team’s leadership and facilitation of brand design and messaging. It is very rewarding to have a unifying brand for our team and our stakeholders to rally around. Thank you!"

Jeffrey D. Allen, President & CEO | Cellero

Part 3: $38 million acquisition

The Cellero brand launch, along with an announcement of the company’s aggressive expansion plans, raised eyebrows across the industry.

Less than two months after taking the Cellero brand live, Charles River Laboratories International (NYSE: CRL) acquired the company for approximately $38 million in cash.

The acquisition further strengthened Charles River’s cell and gene therapy offering following the December 2019 acquisition of HemaCare, one of Cellero’s top competitors.

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“The addition of Cellero will enhance Charles River’s unique, comprehensive solutions for the high-growth cell therapy market, strengthening its ability to help accelerate clients’ critical programs from basic research and proof-of-concept to regulatory approval and commercialization.”

Charles River Laboratories | SEC Filing

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