Disruptr: Chor Chee Hoe, Chief Executive Officer & Cofounder of Qarbotech
Share with us on what you do and what inspired you to start the business.
- My responsibilities in Qarbotech spans across production, engineering, finance, business development, sales and marketing, basically everything and anything! Qarbotech is a deep-tech start-up based in Malaysia, providing carbon nanotechnology products and solutions for farmers and industrial players.
- We improve crop productivity by enhancing the photosynthesis rate of plants. Established in 2018 as a research-centric start-up, Qarbotech focuses heavily on the research of carbon nanomaterial, and it is now entering the commercial farming segment.
- I’m passionate about environmental care and sustainability. I grew up as an asthmatic kid and I value clean air. I was always looking for an opportunity to innovate; and be part of the solutions to bring cleaner air and healthier environment to the humankind.
- Our technology can help plants to remove more carbon dioxide from the air & generate more oxygen for us to breathe. This is going to make a huge impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas in cities.
What has the journey been like?
- It was more adventurous than I expected. It is a very challenging yet rewarding journey. Challenging because making revenue growth is harder than I could imagine. Rewarding because I’m creating impacts in farming communities, as well as to the environment.
- A lot of hard work, dedication, resilience, and sleepless nights! I’m learning something new every day from my failed experiments (we call it validated learning) and keep pushing forward.
Biggest achievement and what is one regret that you wish you had or had not done?
- We are the global top 250 deep tech startups last year, selected by Enterprise Singapore; also the Grand Winner of Tech Planter Asia Finals. We have also secured an angel investment from Singaporean investors.
- I wish I had started my entrepreneurship journey earlier, like in my late 20s. At my current age, every failed experiment will be more costly, as it carries a higher opportunity cost.
Where do you see yourself in the next 1 year?
- Currently we are commercialising our technology in the agriculture sector, but the potential is beyond agriculture. We see ourselves expanding our technology offerings into the solar cell application in the next 1 year.
- Our technology is proven to be able to increase the efficiency of solar cells, which mean more energy can be generated through solar cells enhanced by our technology. I’m looking forward to seeing our new commercial product to be launched soon!
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
- I see my startup expanding to other markets in Asia Pacific, and enriching millions of lives through the technology of Qarbotech. Over the next 5 years, I hope to develop stronger partnerships with global industrial players.
- I also plan to take advantage of any training or professional development opportunities to continue growing and improving in my role.
What keeps you going to keep running the business?
- The impact that our business could bring in different areas like solving food security issues, improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, removing more carbon dioxide from the air as part of climate action, contributing to reforestation, and driving the innovation in renewable energy sector.
What is one local startup you would like to work together with and why?
- I would like to work with an impact startup, Sukod Borneo. This impact startup is based in Sabah, and it is working very closely with paddy farmers who are planting Tambunan’s specialty heirloom rice in Tambunan. 80% of the population of Tambunan are paddy farmers.
- As my Qarbogrow Photosynthesis Enhancer has proven to be able to increase 60% of rice yield in Peninsular Malaysia, I would like to work with Sukod Borneo to increase the rice yield of paddy farmers in Tambunan, as well as to increase the income of these farmers.
Who is one founder (local or international) that you look up to?
- I look up to Mr Kamarul A Muhamed, the Founder and Group CEO of Aerodyne. Mr Kamarul is highly regarded in the entrepreneurial world for his innovative approach to the drone industry.
- He is a visionary leader who is not afraid to take risks and is always looking for ways to improve his business and is very supportive to young startups like Qarbotech. He is always inspiring and has given me some practical advice for my startup.
Why should investors invest in your enterprise?
- Our technology is the first and only photosynthesis enhancement solution in the market. The potential of our technology in agriculture is very significant. We can contribute to solving food insecurity issue of the world. Moreover, the application of our technology is beyond agriculture. We are a deep tech and life sciences company.
- Our technology can be used to manufacture a more efficient type of solar cell, to increase the yield of algae cultivation for biofuel, to function as catalyst in the biodiesel production process, to increase the sensitivity of healthcare diagnostic methods, and to keep food fresher longer.