"Genius is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent perspiration," one of the favourite motivational quotes of the man of the hour,
Naveen Kulkarni, CEO, Quantumzyme LLP
While the idea of the application of better methods to understand the protein structure was there for quite a while now, every other structural bioinformatics expert's focus was mostly on drug discovery. This led to the question of 'Why not apply it in a completely different sector like "Green Chemistry"'
While globally, fine chemical industries like pharmaceuticals and allied chemical industries are already fighting to reduce the pollution caused by their manufacturing, India being the producer of the second-largest generic in the world is trailing far behind in controlling the pollution caused.
Hence, in 2016, with the help of a few believers supporting the cause of leaving behind better earth for the future generations and applying scientific principles, the deep-tech company Quantumzyme was conceptualised. Founded on September 21 2016, Quantumzyme caters to the trillion-dollar manufacturing industry which is still in its nascent stage.
As the saying goes "People are the most important thing. Business model and product will follow if you have the right people". Naveen is grateful to be surrounded by some of the brightest minds in the industry.
As the visionary with nearly 25 years of combined experience within life science, healthcare industry ranging from research to business development having also worked in the multicultural environment across the globe in key roles, Naveen shares, "My team is a balanced blend of highly experienced and highly talented tribe bringing fresh ideas to the table and the ability to execute acutely complex projects."
The commander is supported by fierce combatants Nishant Patel from Sales and Business Development, who brings in vast knowledge with experience ranging from Pharma Analyst to B2C Healthcare Sales and Marketing and B2B deals.
Along with Dr Dwarakanath Prahalad from the Science and Technology department, who brings in the immense experience of more than 36 years of drug discovery, global research management across different applications is the driving force behind Quantumzyme's scientific engine.
And a more recent addition is Venugopal N, who heads the customer delivery, project controls, process and program management as well as "technology engineering", comes with over 23 years of IT experience both in product and service delivery with large multinationals based across US and Japan.
In a conversation with the captain of the ship, Naveen Kulkarni, CEO, Quantumzyme LLP, The CEO Magazine unfolded various chapters of the Best Emerging Companies In India To Watch In 2020:
Naveen: Almost all of our clients are closely connected to science and even in a manufacturing environment, their understanding of chemistry is exceptionally high. That said, in every project that we work on, there is always a new finding which sparks the fire of inquisitiveness, and the quest for being better emerges. In summary, our clients gain a better view of their product, its versatility, thereby the ability to develop a better product-market combination to move towards a leadership position.
Naveen: India is a risk-averse business environment. Strategy and long-term vision take a backseat vis a vis short term revenue generation opportunity. Hence, we see very less of technology development, inventions are a rare commodity.
This is a big challenge for any technology company as we are forced to show short term financial growth as opposed to other developed markets where investors are willing to wait for the long haul and are well aware of the technology life cycle, adoption delays.
At Quantumzyme, our biggest challenge is, there is limited time to spend on technology and IP development and we have to constantly look for service projects for short time survival which creates unwanted pressure and a few important differentiators have taken lesser priority.
Naveen: Honestly, there have been a few turning points. The first being the support of our German academic collaborator Prof. Uwe Bornscheuer who also funded us as a start-up to achieve the first successful proof of concept. Second, securing pre-seed funding even before we incorporated the company and thirdly, I am eternally grateful for my investors who believed in the concept and have been patient throughout this journey.
Most importantly, the biggest factor for success is my senior team who have sacrificed their health, providing emotional capital throughout these challenging times and ensuring the integrity of the scientific team is always at its peak.
Naveen: We have an internal slogan within Quantumzyme "From Surviving to Thriving". Yes, we were also severely affected like many other startups. But many thanks to our customers, who supported us by being cooperative, patient, and also to all our vendor partners, who stood by us in ensuring we deliver high-quality output. All this was possible because of every person at Quantumzyme, who volunteered to help and support to nurture the company during these trying times.
Naveen: The Quantumzyme team has instilled a strong sense of our core values which include, integrity, ethics, customer-centric, reliability, innovation, and commitment.
As a market leader, definitely unique thinking and long-term value delivery and sustainability, are paramount. My goal is to enable technology adoption and develop accessible technology for a greener earth.
Naveen: "Don't worry about failure; you only have to be right once," would be a piece of advice I cherish. We are working on eliminating two of the biggest problems that have plagued Earth, plastic and metal catalysts that are cheap but extremely harmful to the environment. If we solve either one of them in the next year or two, I would consider that as a success.
Naveen: We raised seed funding in 2017 and we have been well supported by our investor till now. Currently, we have secured contracts which go beyond our Insilico capabilities and require state of the art biotech lab facilities and these are met by outsourcing and working with partners. We are preparing for a Series A funding in the coming months to enable us to set up a pilot-scale facility as well as support our IP commercialisation activities.
Naveen: We robustly comply with the fact that it is our responsibility to give back to society. I also realise that as an individual one may be limited by resources. I would like to commend our Government and work with it to consider all Biocatalysis research aiming for Green Chemistry to be also considered as CSR as mandated by the government.
Naveen: I believe, a start-up should look forward to creating a successful enterprise with three simple ingredients – People, People, and People. I would like to share with your readers that Biotech as opposed to large manufacturing industries is a technology domain hence usually remain small. As Jason Fried said, "There's nothing wrong with staying small. You can do big things with a small team."