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Name: Yann Gaston Mathé
What are you building, and who benefits most from it?
Iktos is building artificial intelligence technologies with the aim of considerably accelerating the early stages of drug discovery. We partner with pharmaceutical and biotech companies to help them identify new drugs for any therapeutic area they work on with three main approaches developed by the company: generative AI to design molecules, AI-driven retrosynthesis to assess feasibility and synthesize molecules, and active learning-based virtual screening to rapidly screen billions of compounds. We make these technologies available to customers either via software (Makya & Spaya), services, or collaborations.
What is one of your startup’s most impressive accomplishments?
In six years, we have worked on more than 60 collaborations with pharma and biotech companies and tackled their medicinal chemistry challenges to help deliver drug candidates.
What has been the biggest challenge so far, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was to understand our market and make chemists at pharma and biotech companies accept our AI technology without giving them the impression that we could replace their work. To solve this, we have developed a software business model that puts our technology in the hands of the chemists so that they can use the power of our AI in their daily work.
What tool or app could you not live without and why?
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Iktos is a user of tools and services created by French startups, such as PayFit and Alan. We do believe that French companies have talent. On a day-to-day basis, we could not live without our Mattermost app. Because of the evolution of work habits, the development of home offices, and the internationalization of the company, this instant messaging service is clearly our must-have tool.
What marketing strategies have worked for you?
We have used several marketing strategies since the inception of the company. The best one for us is to advertise via press releases on as many deals as we can to build confidence in our audience. We also use a lot of video tutorials to make prospects understand our tools and the way they can use them.
Can you share any financial data about your startup?
Recently, Iktos successfully closed its series A funding round and raised 15.5 million euros. (Reported on May 12, 2023.)
What has been your biggest business failure to date? What did you learn from it?
Our biggest business challenge is the length of our sales cycle. Selling complex and quite expensive AI tools such as ours takes time. We can’t talk about failure, but we have to engage in long, in-depth discussions with some of our prospects to truly convince them that the Iktos solution is a must-have for them. We have learned from this that we needed to frame a prospection process oriented towards building confidence in Iktos’ technologies and expertise.
What’s the best specific piece of advice you have for other entrepreneurs?
Building a company is not only a matter of building a perfect technology but also of finding your market.
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