#FoundersFridays: Meet Ahmed Mamdouh Khalil
Meet Ahmed Mamdouh Khalil, founder of Elementa Labs, a company that has developed a highly accurate voice assistant for scientific lab researchers.
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 pharmaceutical industry, I was able to witness the challenges that faced patients, healthcare providers and health care systems. In particular, I came to be familiar with challenges relating to chronic diseases: costly long-term treatment plans with low outcomes. I decided to shift my career towards lab and drug innovation so I could contribute to creating more innovative therapies for use around the world. And guess what? That was more challenging than I had imagined. During my work over three years in different research labs working on cancer immunotherapy, I was shocked by how inefficiently we still conduct and document scientific research, losing huge quantities of valuable data. I saw a huge problem to solve that could tremendously influence our drug innovation process and healthcare system, and so 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?
One of my favourite parts of being an entrepreneur in the Amsterdam ecosystem is that the city offers countless opportunities, resources and expertise for founders – especially first-time founders. That varies from educational programs to incubator programs, non-equity/equity early-stage funding to scalability, globalisation, and everything in between. Additionally, the culture of entrepreneurship is highly practised: everyone is willing to offer help, guidance and connections at any networking event. This is one of the main factors that kept me motivated as I was working alone for the first two-and-a-half 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 up our growth momentum by expanding our services. In Q2 2023 we are planning to close a seed funding round of €800,000. This will allow us to expand our team (technical, marketing & sales), grow our sales and revenues, and advance our product through R&D projects.
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment as a founder?
My proudest moments have been seeing our team come together in our weekly meetings. Having such bright minds working together and seeing their passion and enthusiasm makes me proud and grateful. Without this team, we couldn’t have reached where we are now. I believe the team is a crucial element for a startup’s success, especially in early phases. You can have three or four different people who don’t know each other and have to work together efficiently. In our case, we had to make sure that there was full transparency and trust between team members, on a professional and personal level. Second to that was understanding each team member's mindset, skills and knowledge and making sure that we were 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 also means changing the way scientists are used to working, so it was very challenging to bring a new way of working into the lab. We had to conduct many interviews, visit labs and iterate the way we were building our software. It took us some time, but it was a very fruitful process. We were able to find the best way to enable scientists to adopt our voice technology fast, by building highly intuitive voice UI/UX that fits into their lab environment.