Innovation & Enterprise


Entrepreneur profile: Nikhit Anilbhai and Sonakshi Senthil, co-founders of Your Cue

UCL alumni Nikhit Anilbhai and Sonakshi Senthil reflect on the support they’ve received through UCL Innovation & Enterprise that’s helping them grow an award-winning med-tech business.

Sonakshi Senthil and Nikhit Anilbhai, co-founders of Your Cue

17 May 2024

Dr Nikhit Anilbhai and Sonakshi Senthil both had a deep passion for improving healthcare when they came to study as postgraduates at UCL in 2019. Nikhit embarked on an MSc in Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine, and Sonakshi an MSc in Personalised Medicine and Novel Therapies.

By the end of both their master’s degrees, the pair had pooled their ideas and talents to launch Your Cue: an award-winning business that builds finger-based wearables for patients in hospitals. Their technology allows patients’ vital readings, such as heart rate and blood pressure, to be monitored continuously so that any problems can be quickly dealt with.

Nikhit and Sonakshi have been supported to grow their business as part of the Hatchery incubator programme at BaseKX, UCL's dedicated entrepreneurship hub in King's Cross, managed by UCL Innovation & Enterprise.

A business founded during the pandemic

Nikhit: Our journey with Your Cue really came into being when Sonakshi and I took time off from our master’s during the Covid pandemic to go back to India where we’re both from. I started working as a medical officer during the pandemic and saw first hand the frustration that came from not being able to do enough to save my patients.

I later lost my own father to Covid, and I remember saying to Sonakshi at the time: "if only I could have kept a check on his vitals, I could have done something to help save his life."

Saving lives and improving patient care

Sonakshi: Our company is based on the principle that the vital signs of every patient need to be monitored continuously. Many, many lives are lost every year simply as a result of a lack of monitoring, and we have developed a piece of technology that can help solve that problem.

With our wearable, hospitals could continuously check everything a nurse might need to monitor on a patient, including heart rate, blood oxygen, skin temperature and blood pressure. We’re introducing new features so we can monitor things like cardiac anomalies, too.

All that information is then uploaded to the cloud and any clinician can access it in real time. Our device also features notifications and alarms to alert healthcare professionals if a patient needs urgent attention.

Nikhit: At the moment, continuous monitoring generally only happens when someone is in intensive care. But we believe all patients should receive this kind of monitoring.

As well as preventing lives being lost, we’ve calculated huge efficiency gains. If every NHS trust introduced our wearable, it could save nurses in the UK around 13 million hours annually by relieving them of their responsibility to run periodic checks. This is time they could then spend on improving patient care.

Support from UCL Innovation & Enterprise

Nikhit: When we came back to UCL to finish our master’s in 2021, we knew we needed help with this. Our starting point was to enrol ourselves on the Launch programme – now called ‘Build your business or social enterprise’ (run by UCL Innovation & Enterprise). As well as finding out about everything from marketing to legal, we won a cash prize of £500. That small victory pushed us to pursue our goals and we applied for the Hatchery incubator. I remember thinking "wow, someone else believes in our idea, we need to keep going with it now."

Sonakshi: Being part of UCL’s Hatchery incubator programme has been a game-changer. In addition to getting help with the necessary visas we needed as international students, we’ve had free desk space for three years, and been exposed to experts in areas like sales, deck designing, marketing and finance.

The other big benefit is the peer support, and being surrounded by other people building these amazing businesses, too. That’s driven us to achieve a lot more and push ourselves to put ourselves forward for things like competitions to build our exposure with investors.

Winning the 'Hatchery Start-up of the Year'

Nikhit: Winning Hatchery Start-up of the Year 2022 was a crucial early win, as we were struggling for funds then. The £13,000 prize money allowed us to devote the next six months to developing our first proof of concept (POC). We then secured £10,000 from the CapTableTV pitch competition as an equity investment to take things to the second POC stage.

Other highlights have included representing UCL in the Venture Cup in Denmark and China, and winning both those competitions, and myself and Sonakshi have both recently won Top 100 Asians in UK tech awards from Diversity UK.

Where things are up to

Sonakshi: Most recently, we secured a £50,000 Innovate UK grant with support from the Innovate UK Business Growth team, part of UCL Innovation & Enterprise. We’re now using this grant to add additional features into our device.

Once we’ve received the necessary certifications, which we hope to get by the end of 2024, we’ll be running soft pilots with several NHS trusts next. Our intention is to launch in the UK, and in India soon after that.

Advice for budding entrepreneurs

Sonakshi: If I could offer any advice, it would be to say that entrepreneurship can seem like this huge mountain to climb at the beginning. You think to yourself "am I really going to get through all this?" You go into your idea with a lot of excitement, but you have to be resilient. You have to face a lot of rejections and still have the emotional capacity to keep going.

Nikhit: I would add that it’s important to be realistic. One of our biggest wake-up calls was to do with funding. When we started, it looked like it would be easy to raise capital. It actually took us six to eight months to understand the fundraising process as first-time founders, and where to look for investment.

But if you’re passionate about your idea, I truly believe you have every chance of making it a reality at UCL. It’s up to you to harness all the resources on offer. Keep going and keep reaching out. There are many, many people here who’ll want to cheer you on, and help. We’ve had so many people advise us and give their valuable time for free because they believe in what we’re doing. We’re so lucky, and grateful, for that.