Meet Our Year Four $550,000 Winner: Qidni Labs

Qidni Labs develops renal replacement therapies (artificial kidneys) that fit in the palm of your hand for millions of patients with kidney failure.

Hometown: San Francisco, CA


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Q&A With Morteza Ahmadi, Co-Founder & CEO

Describe your team in three words.

Hardworking, detail-oriented, visionary.

What’s the biggest reward from running your startup?

Waking up every morning with a purpose for your life.

Describe a time when you failed – how did you respond or come back from it?

We started Qidni with a vision for a technology that didn’t exist at that time. We failed at least four times before having our last idea work, but we never gave up.

Did you have an entrepreneurial side at a young age? Explain.

Yes, I had a tutoring business when I was in my sophomore year of high school. I acquired customers by borrowing money from my mom and advertising in a local newspaper.

The startup life can be a real grind. What do you and your team members do to blow off some steam or during downtime?

We eat out.

How did your team meet each other?

The founders knew each other for years, but they took different paths in school – which was actually complementary for Qidni.

Finish this sentence: “I’ll know my company has succeeded when…”

…we have a million kidney failure patient using Qidni’s technology.

What problem is your startup solving?

Mortality rate of patients with kidney failure under dialysis is 65% in 5 years. Our goal is to reduce the mortality rate and improve the quality of life.

How can working in the Buffalo startup ecosystem help your startup thrive?

We can tap all the local resources to improve our technology and business. We will use labs at the University of Buffalo, and hire and manufacture major parts of our technology in Buffalo.

What’s something you wish you knew about being an entrepreneur when you were still in high school?

That I could start being an entrepreneur when I was in primary school.

What’s your why? (Why did you create this company?)

I was a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering when I got a prestigious fellowship from the Kidney Foundation of Canada. By the time I graduated from PhD program and the fellowship, I had so many connections in the field of nephrology around the world, I knew the problem very well, and I knew the sort of technology that can solve the problem. I also knew the positive impact the product could have. So I started the company.

If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at the beginning stages of your company, what advice would you give yourself?

Any product and technology, such as what Qidni develops, needs a series of failures and iterations before it is acceptable to be called a product. The failures are an important part of the game and they have to happen, so let them happen soon and fast.

What was the moment when you thought to yourself, “This (idea/company) could actually work?”

When we tested a prototype in pig models with no kidney function.

If you could perform live on stage with one singer or band, who would it be? Why?
Hard to choose. Lady Gaga? She is super creative.


Learn more about Qidni Labs by checking out their pitch from 43North Finals!