"Without 5-HT, we would not have come into contact with the industry so easily".
QoD Technologies (Quantum on Demand) is one of the first startups to become part of the constantly growing 5-HT ecosystem. The young Berlin-based company around the chemists Dr. Marcel Quennet, Dr. Vincent Pohl and Dr. Gunter Hermann is developing "Quantum on Demand", a SaaS solution (qod.cloud) for automated chemical predictions based on artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum chemical simulations. According to the three founders, this means that laboratory tests can be significantly reduced in the research and development of new materials and active pharmaceutical ingredients - this shortens development times and saves considerable costs. About a year after our first interview with QoD Technologies, CEO Dr. Marcel Quennet now tells us in a second interview how the startup has developed since then and how the three founders have benefited from the partnership with 5-HT on their journey so far.
What successes can you look back on in the past year?
At the end of 2019, we released our prototype and gained the first users from the industry. Based on the industry feedback, we moved on to develop our MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and test it with a selected group. Despite the Corona pandemic, we were able to acquire more pilot projects in 2020. On the one hand, our customers are naturally feeling the cuts caused by the Corona crisis. On the other hand, we also see the current situation as an opportunity, as our decentralised, digital and thus contactless approach meets the needs of the companies. In the second half of 2020, we evaluated the collected feedback from our MVP, made improvements and implemented new features. We released the enhanced, closed beta version of our platform (qod.cloud) at the end of the year.
Have you also expanded your team in the past year?
Yes, there are now no longer three of us, but five. In the middle of 2020, we gained reinforcements for the areas of AI and machine learning, and in autumn we hired another software developer for the further development of our web application. We are currently looking for more interested and motivated software developers to help us expand our platform.
How do you finance yourselves at the moment?
After the EXIST startup grant, we were able to seamlessly acquire follow-up funding. Currently, we are also supported by a Berlin programme for highly innovative technology companies and private investors.
What are the next goals for QoD Technologies?
We want to continue to significantly increase the number of users of our platform and launch further pilot projects with companies. We will also be expanding our team significantly in the near future. We will also be closing a significant financing round shortly, which will allow us to do very well and also grow significantly over the next two years.
You were one of the first startups to be accepted into the 5-HT network. How do you see the development of our Digital Hub so far?
It is very remarkable how much the start-up portfolio has grown in such a short time. When we became part of 5-HT two years ago, the number of startups was still manageable, but now it's easy to lose track. At the beginning of 2020, we were there as alumni for the second edition of the X-Linker programme. Here we clearly saw how 5-HT has developed compared to the first X-Linker: The event was bigger, the startups were more mature and the whole process was even more professional than the year before.
What did you take away from your participation at X-Linker 2019 and from attending the closing event at X-Linker 2020?
When we participated in the Startup Bootcamp in 2019, we were still in a very early stage of the company. The programme helped us a lot to sharpen the definition of our product and to better understand the market. By talking to numerous industry representatives, we were able to quickly see where we were and how we needed to adapt our product to make it even more appealing. In 2020, we as alumni were able to deepen these conversations at the closing event and collect further, valuable feedback from companies. This was a very good opportunity to get in direct contact with employees of large companies.
Have you already found access to the industry through 5-HT?
5-HT has made it much easier for us to access industry. I don't think we would have been able to make direct contact with large chemical companies so easily without the Digital Hub. Now it's up to us to expand these contacts and initiate further projects.
Through the mediation of 5-HT, you were featured in an article in CHEManager in November 2019. What has come out of this for you?
We have seen a significant influx of new potential customers on our platform. In addition, we were able to gain an important strategic partner through this article. Without the article in CHEManager, we would not have come into contact so easily.
As one of six high-potential startups, you were part of the Scale Programme of the de:hub initiative. What experience did you gain?
Through discussions with the organiser, the focal points for our training and coaching needs were determined and an individual programme was put together. Among other things, we sharpened our corporate branding with professional support. The exchange with startups from other industries and company phases from the de:hub initiative was also very helpful for us, as we were able to share our startup experiences with each other.
You were Challenge Givers at the 5-HT Digital Qualifier. You had students from the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences Idstein work on a real task during a semester. What was your experience with it?
The cooperation with the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences Idstein and the students was very exciting and valuable for us. In addition to a fresh external view of our company, the students' solution to the problem also brought further interesting insights that will help us in the further development of our product and company. We are very grateful to the students and the university for this.
(We have already portrayed them in Dec 2019: /en/2019/12/06/data-instead-of-test-tubes-ki-supported-simulations-for-research-and-development/)
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