Founders Fridays is a StartupAmsterdam initiative showcasing local entrepreneurs who help strengthen our ecosystem. By inviting founders to answer five questions, we want to shine a light on our ecosystem's most inspirational stories and role models. We hope we'll all learn and grow together by providing startup founders a space to share their insights and experience.

 

This week we spoke to Ahmed Mamdouh Khalil, founder of Elementa Labs. The company has developed an app that can be used by biomedical lab researchers as a voice assistant. Elementa can integrate seamlessly with existing databases, systems and machines in the lab, making them smarter by creating voice-enabled labs. Accordingly, scientists are able to collect data accurately, optimise experimental workflows and stay connected to their databases from the lab, all by the power of their voice.  

How did your career journey lead you to found Elementa Labs?

Kicking off my career in sales and business development in the international pharma industry, I was able to witness the challenges that faced patients, healthcare providers and health care systems. Especially when it comes to chronic diseases, costly long term treatment plans with low outcomes. I decided to shift my career towards lab and drug innovation so I can contribute to creating more innovative therapies for the world. And guess what? It is more challenging than in my big fluffy dreams. During my work for 3 years in different research labs in cancer immunotherapy, I was shocked at how we still conduct and document scientific research inefficiently, losing huge amounts of valuable data. I saw a big problem that could tremendously influence our drug innovation process and healthcare system, and I decided to combine my expertise in business and science to contribute to a healthier world.

What makes Amsterdam a great city and ecosystem for a startup founder?

This is one of my favourite parts of being an entrepreneur in the Amsterdam ecosystem! The city can offer countless opportunities, resources and expertise for founders. Especially for first-time founders. From educational programs to incubator programs. From non-equity/equity early-stage funding to scalability, globalisation, and everything in between. Additionally, the culture of entrepreneurship is highly practised, where everyone is willing to offer help, guidance and connections in any networking event. It is one of the main reasons that kept me motivated when I worked alone for the first 2.5 years

What are the goals and needs of Elementa Labs for the upcoming months?

We recently launched our software successfully with various partners around the globe. Our main goals are to keep our growth momentum of expanding our services. In Q2 2023 we are planning to close a seed funding round of 800K. Through this seed funding round, we will be able to expand our team (technical, marketing & sales), grow our sales and revenues, and advance our product through R&D projects.


Portrait of Ahmed Mamdouh Khalil, founder of Elementa Labs

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment as a founder?

My most proud moment is seeing our team before my eyes in our weekly meetings. Having such minds working together in one team and seeing the passion and enthusiasm makes me proud and grateful. Without this team, we wouldn't have reached where we are now. I believe the team is a very detrimental element for startups’ success, especially in early phases. You are having 3 or 4 different people who don’t know each other and have to work together efficiently. In our case, we had to make sure that there is full transparency and trust between the team members, on a professional and personal level. Second, understanding each team member's mindset, skills and knowledge and making sure that we are aligning our team resources to reach our milestones with focus. 


What was the most challenging moment in your business journey? How did you get past it and move forward?

Building a startup for the first time is a never ending learning experience. You are constantly out of your comfort zone doing new things that you have zero knowledge about. One of the most challenging moments is finding our product-market fit. Implementing voice technology scientific labs comes with changing the way scientists are used to work. It was very challenging to bring a new way of working in the lab. We had to conduct many interviews, visit labs and iterate the way we are building our software. It took us some time, but it was a very fruitful process. We were able to find the best way that can enable scientists to adopt our voice technology fast by building highly intuitive voice UI/UX that fits in their lab environment.