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Dr. Sophie Chung
Sophie is the Founder and CEO of Qunomedical, a Berlin-based digital health startup. Sophie was born in Austria and her parents come from Cambodia and her grandparents from China. Sophie studied medicine and is a former stem cell researcher. After many career changes in her life, she decided to start her own company in 2016. Qunomedical is a platform that helps patients to find the right doctor and helps doctors and hospitals digitize their patient journey for better patient service.
Sophie, what motivated you to start your own business?
I've always worked in healthcare and have always been active in many different roles. The motivation to start my own company came from my own frustration with the healthcare system. When somebody goes to see a doctor and gets surgery it should be an amazing experience like people should be taking care of you. You should be feeling safe, and it should be transparent so that you know what's going on. People should explain things to you and you shouldn't feel rushed. All these little bits and pieces don't contribute to an awesome patient experience. But I think you can create one. And that's why I decided to start my own company, to show the world that it can be done.
And what entrepreneurial challenges have you encountered that you wish you had more help with?
Entrepreneurship with all its positive aspects comes with a lot of challenges. Not in a negative way, but definitively challenges that you have to tackle. One thing that I wish I had more knowledge about, and probably also more help with is fundraising. Especially in a platform model like the one I'm building, a very tech-centric company, bootstrapping was just not an option. Having a great product and a great market is not enough. As a CEO and founder of a company, one big success factor is your ability to fundraise for your company. And that is something I feel like I was lacking experience in.
Who or what supported or empowered you during your entrepreneurial journey?
I have had quite some people who have been very supportive. I did find investors who believed in me and my idea very early on. And that was the foundation to my success so far. Another thing is being able to hire a team that is as excited about my vision and product as me, who is loyal, and who you know. Just having awesome people around you is the second very important factor.
And how did you find your team?
Through every single channel I can think of. It's like when you look for an apartment in Berlin. You have to tell everyone that you are looking for an apartment. Because just waiting for somebody to come and offer you an apartment is probably not going to be the best solution. So, the best way to land an apartment in Berlin is to work your way through and find an apartment before it comes onto the market. And I feel like the job market is very similar. So, when I'm looking to hire people, no matter who I meet, I will tell them about the vacancy. even ask if they know anyone who is not even looking for a new job, but they think is an amazing person. This is basically how I have found my team to a large extent. And that's what I still do today.
How has your cultural background influenced your career?
I think, in the end, it was a very positive influence. I grew up between three cultures: the Austrian culture, the Chinese culture, and the Cambodian culture. This allowed me to understand that there's no right or wrong. Different cultures think differently without having to judge it. There's this misunderstanding that cultural context is something that should embrace you. Every culture has strengths and weaknesses. That background really allows me to keep an open mind and allowed me to think big. It also allows me to build products for people from different cultures because I am able to understand where people come from, how they think, and how they behave the way they do without having to judge them right away.
What is your personal tip for women with a migration background who want to start a business?
My tip is just like for any other person who wants to start a business “just do it!”. If you have an idea, of course, you have to challenge the idea on whether you know the market well enough, your customers, and so on. But if you want to do it, you should do it. And for anyone with a migration background I might add: proves everyone wrong who has ever underestimated you in a way.
Thank you very much, Sophie!