It was during a very long lunch in the summer of 1999 that Jan D’Alvise and Nurith Kurn realized they were going to be business partners. In fact, even the several hours it took for Kurn to explain her new, alternative-PCR technology idea weren’t enough — the pair met at coffee houses all over Palo Alto, Calif., for further discussions and often stayed so long that D’Alvise jokes they put more than one eatery out of business.

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