Keep your Startup running during disruptions: In Conversation with Dinesh, Founder Onward Assist

CIE brings to our Deeptech community,
Fire Up Founder Insights series, hosted by our Incubation head, Mr. Anubhav Tiwari. The series is brought to you as a part of Startup Gyan Blog series by CIE-IIITH  where we feature our founders and talk about their Startup status and the journey so far through conversation on specific topics useful for other Deeptech startups and the community at large.

In Conversation with Dinesh Koka, founder Onward Assist:

“We started with a patient engagement and medical adherence platform, helping patients to take their medication on time” said Dinesh Koka with 18 years of rich experience in Healthcare Industry leading Onward Assist with Cofounder and CTO Vikas with 15 years’ experience in Data Science and Signal processing.
A good match of founders complementary skill set and a team self-motivated for working on the current problem statement, Onward Assist is all set to bring a Cancer analytics platform with automated diagnostic support and Clinical decision-making.

The team has built an Analytics platform that enables Pathology, Radiology and Patient data management verticals. We provide a full stack solution with top layer of AI that looks into the pathology images, generates patterns useful for the pathologist to come up with accurate reports.

“The model mimics what a pathologist does in a lab with a microscope and helps in doing it faster with higher accuracy. Where a usual process takes 15-30 minutes or more, our model aims to achieve in half the time.”


With the AI on top, a workflow tool to easily deploy the model and a low cost hardware component procured with specs from vendor, the Startup is managing to deliver faster and with ease.

“When there’s not enough velocity of Data, there’s not a lot of ML that you can build”, which is one of the reasons, the Startup pivoted to Oncology and started getting support from top cancer institutes and large number of diagnostic centres to ramp up, build the tools and get initial results. IIITH Foundation was one of our earliest investors for pre-seed investment.


So, How are you responding and managing your team during this disruption?

“This is the new normal”

said Dinesh and shared the same with his team as this is a disruption for the entire team and work.

Since the team motivation has been a self-sustaining one, coming from the enthusiasm to work on the problem itself, it survived. There are pre-defined deliverables for everyone and updates are done twice a week. The team connects almost every day, not just for work but to have casual chit-chats while limiting the discussion of Corona as much as possible (Reasonable :D)

How the current situation affected your business?

There have been both positive as well as negative impacts on Business. The collaborations with research partners coming from Clinics, Hospitals and Diagnostic centres is getting affected as it is not possible to meet them as usual. Same is the case with Biz Dev and commercialisation talks, not happening either.

“We are trying to figure out ways for Business-as-usual for this new normal”

There are new problem statements and the team with subgroups of 2, are trying to devise tracking methodologies such as Patient & Symptom tracking, Loss of sensory smell tracking and different types of possible mutations and variant tracking etc.

One hack to keep your team motivated and running:

Firstly, To ensure productivity, have a schedule for yourself as it is tough to switch on without an office culture around.

Secondly, Connect with your team over calls repetitively just to get into rhythm, it will help in the long run.

Keep watching this space for more under Fire Up Series.
Stay safe and sound!

– Sunita Kumari, Team CIE