QLab: Winners’ Stories

Last Friday at Quantox was about the QLab Accelerator Program and Demo Day, where all program participants had a chance to pitch their ideas and show the results of their work over the course of 13 weeks.

Our QLabers seemingly overcame their excitement and jitters and showed excellent speaking skills, as well as plenty of emotions during their presentations, the same feelings they’ve poured into their projects. The variety of ideas and great realization from all QLab teams made choosing a winner challenging.

However, our expert judges decided and gave Quantox and QLab Program two winners with equally impressive ideas and realization.

It is our pleasure to introduce Đorđe Cvetković, his team and project ”Čuvarko” and Ana Svilar, her team and project ”Livada”. With a desire to hear more about their projects, QLab Accelerator program and Demo Day impressions, we interviewed Ana and Đorđe, and here’s what they have to say about this one-of-a-kind experience.

Congratulations to you and your teams! After 13 weeks of preparing your project and developing your idea, Demo Day came. How did you feel the day of the competition? Nervous, confident…. 

ANA: The whole period and especially the last week was very intense. I didn’t feel 100% ready at the Demo Day, I was much more nervous than I expected, but I had strong belief in the core idea, the whole team and the things we achieved in these 3 months.

ĐORĐE: My plan was to go there and have fun. One in six doesn’t sound like great odds for the win. Rest of the team was only interested in developing the app and there was no pressure on their side either. I tried to take it easy on Friday, I even arrived later at the office, so I don’t get nervous while waiting for the event to happen. 

During the previous interviews we mentioned some basics about your projects. Now that your projects are chosen as the best two, would you like to tell us more about them?

ANA: Our team has been developing a new WebApp Solution that unites local manufacturers of products made from natural ingredients and anyone who chooses natural care and wants to support local brands. By creating the Community of Natural Care Lovers, as we called them, the goal is not only to make a comprehensive online marketplace, but to create valuable meeting point – with the focus on education, networking, reviews and spreading the idea of new standards of care – from face, body and hair to home cleaning products, kids products,products for men and health..

When we say ”Livada” we mean – Care From Nature, Crafted With Love – and this is a place where all these people are connected.

ĐORĐE: ”Čuvarko” is a pet sitting app that allows pet owners to find and book qualified pet sitters in their area. Our motto is ‘find a sitter that cares’, which we’ll provide by taking in the most reliable and trustworthy sitters. Pet owners will be able to search potential sitters by location and see their reviews. If their pet needs some special care due to their age or needs to take some medication we’ll also have sitters that can provide that too.

What was the biggest obstacle or a problem you needed to find a solution to over the course of those 13 weeks. By the time Demo Day arrived did you manage to solve everything and how?

ANA: There are different kinds of “difficulties” from the very beginning – from remaking the initial idea, scaling a niche idea to development and what we could realistically achieve, to going through the process which is new and unpredictable at times. For me, who is not a programmer, it was especially challenging and interesting to experience how it is working in the background of development – from idea to drawing more than 50 wireframes which will at the end with a design we created become a functional app.

Maybe the biggest challenge was the very end – putting all that effort into a 5 minute talk! But learning and doing so much in such a short period of time was rewarding. Thanks to teamwork, we managed to solve most challenges…but the ‘’bugs’’ never sleep so we are moving on, to reshape. 

ĐORĐE: We had some functionality inconsistencies, fixing one thing would break another, but we worked it out in the end. That and trying to figure out legal and business issues was a bit overwhelming at times. Luckily, we had our mentors there during the whole process to jump in and save the day.

What does it mean for you to be part of such a program within the company?

ANA: A start-up community is still rising in our country and for me, having an opportunity to participate in this kind of program within the company you work for is really a privilege. Having said that, QLab just reinforced my opinion that Quantox is a company that gives opportunity and boost to go further and beyond, with support from great people.

ĐORĐE: Quantox took me as one of 100 interns a year ago, and I am very grateful for that, it was an important step for me. The company then allowed me to apply for the program as an intern and kept supporting me during the hard times. These were amazing 3 months, and I am cheering on that everyone from my team to apply for the next QLab. 

Public appearances and presentations can make the bravest of people feel nervious. How was it performing in this type of setting?

ANA: I guess that all of us as team presenters were struggling with some kind of internal tension during Demo Day but the atmosphere was supportive – from the audience to the jury which wasn’t harsh on us. They asked serious questions, but in a friendly manner. The QLab organization team, mentors and jury really went out of their way to provide us with a relaxed and pleasant setting to present our work.

ĐORĐE: The jury had some very interesting questions for all of us, and they really asked business specific things that we’ll take into account in the future.

What was your impression of the other QLab presenters? Do you have an idea you especially liked that was developed by another QLaber?

ANA: They know that I liked them all! We were sharing similar challenges, were back up to each other all the way and it is great when you see such a progress of initial ideas during the time. There is no doubt that it was one kind of a journey and we all learned so much – about different business fields, processes and ourselves through this period.  If I need to choose, my favorites are Đorđe with Čuvarko (I signed to be the early adopter for his idea) and Tomislav with the idea of IT mentorship, who demonstrated such devotion and broke the ground in some new fields. All the ideas are great, but the people behind them

ĐORĐE: Other QLab presenters are our peers, and we were able to learn from them as much as from the professors. 

First things first, it is about the realization as much as it is about the idea. When it comes to execution Tomislav (itMentorstva) did a perfect job. Programmers don’t become TikTok stars every day. We are all very proud and very impressed by Tomislav!

Another great one is Cenolovac. Veljko’s passion and tenacity can help the team overcome any obstacles.  We loved his idea and we would like to use Cenolovac as soon as it comes out.

Book of Impressions is the one that can have the widest application and we believe that Miloš will be able to find the right audience for his innovative idea. Can’t wait to see what is next for him.

With his great experience in the travel industry, Oliver tried to transfer all that knowledge to his app YUGo. The only thing better than Oliver’s pitch was the energy his team brought that night! 

Lastly,  Livada isn’t a winner by chance – it is on a mission of helping people on both ends of the supply chain.  Ana‘s creative mind and graceful presentation will lead the Livada team to great things leaving an impact on the organic brands market in Serbia and Europe.  

Can you tell us more about the winning moment- what happened?

ANA: I don’t know! 🙂

I just heard Livada at the moment when the winner was already on the stage 🙂 And I am especially glad that the winning position is shared.

ĐORĐE: The winning moment was important because it meant that our team’s hard work had paid off. It is a great way to kick-start our journey and boost our spirits. I know we have a lot of work ahead of us, and we need to keep pushing like hell.

What is your next step in project development?

ANA: QLab is completed, and we all feel more confident and competent – but for all of us, this is just a beginning and a great foundation to aim further in development and find investors to launch this idea. We learned and experienced a lot, and we will definitely continue with further product development, market research, customer discovery, and communication of this project.

ĐORĐE: Steps, it’s plural 🙂 Firstly we have to continue with the development and acquiring sitters as well as pet owners. Marketing is slowly starting but will push it more in the next few months. We’d also like to apply for some additional funding in the near future. All in all, the work is just getting started!

If you thought we won’t ask the famous question, you thought wrong! 🙂 Where do you see your projects in 5 years?

ANA: In the everyday life of Natural Care Lovers. 

We would like to see spreading the idea, benefits, and values of this kind of care – we will be very happy if the percentage of women who are using natural products has increased.

ĐORĐE: In 5 years, I see Čuvarko as a go-to app for anything pet-related and for everyone that loves animals all over the region. We’ll continue to update it with new features and improvements. 

There’s no doubt you’ve already thanked everyone at the Demo Day, but just in case you forgot to mention someone, here’s your chance!

ANA: This would be the longest answer 🙂

I would like to say big thanks to ALL – to every single person making this possible – for investing their time, energy, skills, and support!

Quantox Technology – for making this unique chance for us.

Quantox Development Team – for translating our idea into a product, listening to us every morning, and diligently working on it.

All QLabers – for being a great, supportive crew – we hold our backs, learning and discussing together. 

Our Mentors – for giving us valuable knowledge, different perspectives, and concrete advice and tools.

The judges – for challenging us to validate our idea, and give strong points.

Entire QLab team – for being always ready to help us in every matter we have.

Special thanks to my team – the Quantox marketing crew – for being understanding and a bunch of support for me during these months and one special girl Jelena, for being the most perfect coordinator QLab can imagine.

My core team – my beloved friends and family. 

ĐORĐE: I would like to mention my first team with project manager Violeta who was leading the legendary team – Nikola, Nemanja and Miloš. 

Stefan Božic is one of my favorite mentors and his patience, positivity, and calmness helped me transition into QLab the right way

A big shoutout to our team of developers at QLab and Quantox for their amazing work on the Čuvarko.

3 offices, 5 countries, and 11 friends – Dimche, Andrej, Nikola, Luka, Stefan, Srećko, Bojana, Ivan, Miloš, Marko, and Sandra have been instrumental in helping us achieve this. 

Big thanks to Stefan Salatić for leading all the lectures on the business world in a way that was appropriate for the group. 

Also, ”Thank You” Jelena and Petar for sticking with us through the hard parts and inspiring us.

Our QLab teams deserved a ’’Well Done’’ for their participation, commitment and sheer power of will to make new ideas possible. The IT industry can expect great things from you, without a doubt!