Tech Startup — Maybell Quantum and The Next Generation of Quantum Computing
Denver-based Maybell Quantum is leading the charge in advanced quantum computing.
Co-founder and CEO Corban Tillemann-Dick spent a decade with Boston Consulting Group before he launched Maybell Quantum. The gig encompassed quantum computing — the emerging technology that could make the status quo look like an abacus — and inspired the startup.
“Every computer that we rely on for everything today, from a wristwatch to a cell phone to the most powerful supercomputers in the world, they’ve got the same architecture at their core,” Tillemann-Dick says. “And that architecture is a whole bunch of wires that are either charged or not charged. Depending on their charge state, they’re either a one or a zero in a binary system.”
In a quantum computer, however, every quantum bit—or qubit—isn’t a wire, but the probability of a one or a zero. That means that “quantum computers scale exponentially where classical computers scale linearly,” Tillemann-Dick says. “If you go from one to 20 bits in a classical computer, you’ve gone from one to 20 bits of computing power. If you go from one to 20 qubits, you’ve gone from one qubit of computing power to two to the twentieth power—so over a million qubits of computing power.”
With 14 employees “and growing quickly,” Maybell came out of stealth mode in March 2022 and will be shipping its first products by the end of the year.
Tillemann-Dick envisions massive disruption in the near future. “By the end of the decade, we’re going to have a whole lot of apps that feel fundamentally different,” he says. “In our lifetime, I fully expect that we will go to the doctor and they will take a sample and print real-time, personalized medicine based on what a quantum computer says is wrong with you.”
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IN A NUTSHELL
With quantum computing in its infancy, there are numerous ways to create a qubit, but no clear industry standard — yet. “Today a quantum computer is generally a room-sized system: a few hundred square feet that’s a tangle of tubes and wires and stuff like that,” Tillemann-Dick says.
Maybell’s Icebox is a pair of 19-inch racks that supports three times the qubits in about 10% of the space of existing systems. “We have some customers who have said, ‘We wanted to do this for a long time, but we just couldn’t because our lab didn’t have room for one of those systems,’” Tillemann-Dick says.
Investor Dan Caruso notes, “Maybell is reinventing quantum cryogenics for the first time since the 1980s. It is a game changer for America’s leadership in quantum hardware, and for scalable quantum globally.”
The company’s domestic supply chain and Denver-based manufacturing are particularly attractive to government customers, Tillemann-Dick adds. “Quantum is not a five- or 10-year technology, it’s a 50- or 100-year technology, and China is investing really heavily right now. We really can’t afford to have China define the infrastructure for quantum—we need to make sure that’s done domestically.”
Quantum computing could revolutionize molecular modeling, materials science, risk analytics, weather modeling and other areas. “There are some problems that are literally impossible for a classical computer to solve that become trivial for a quantum computer of sufficient size to solve,” Tillemann-Dick says.
Maybell’s customer base is “a mixture between academics, government labs and the big commercial players,” he says. “We are trending above our best-case scenarios in terms of the interest we’ve generated.”
After closing a seed round in 2021, Maybell is “raising another round now to accelerate some of our innovations and to scale up manufacturing because of demand,” Tillemann-Dick says, noting that the company is nothing like a software startup. “Every single [system] we sell is profitable, and we get a 50% down payment.”
Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer’s Colorado, Frommer’s Montana & Wyoming, Frommer’s Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver’s Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com