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Issa Dasu Patel is the CEO and co-founder of CONNECTCare, a startup using AI to track prescriptions for elderly patients and their carers.

The London headquartered company is aiming to reduce the potential health complications that can arise from medicine mismanagement, which is one of the leading reasons behind the re-hospitalisation of elderly patients.

Founded by Patel and Mehfuz Dasu Patel in 2021, CONNECTCare has raised £1.4m in funding to date, including a £614,000 grant from Innovate UK and capital from angel investors. 

It is currently working with NHS partners across the country to roll out trials of its prescription tracking tech.

In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Patel explains why founders shouldn’t forget grant funding, why he’s excited by technology that connects existing tech, and reveals CONNECTCare’s approach to hiring.

1. What funding advice would you give to a first-time founder?

Issa Dasu Patel: I think there’s a common assumption amongst new founders that venture capital is the only path to take when it comes to funding their startup. However, I’d urge founders not to overlook the potential presented by the amazing range of grant funding opportunities available.

My company, CONNECTCare, secured significant grant funding from Innovate UK, which has been a game-changer and enabled us to not only scale our product, but also connected us to a rich community of champions and expertise. It also gave us more time to develop our product and work with some of the most innovative health and care providers in the country to co-design solutions that are person-centred, meaning we can now explore VC funding with a stronger offering and clearer vision.

2. What are the best and worst parts of your job?

IDP: Without a doubt, the best part is knowing that CONNECTCare is making a tangible difference to people’s lives. We’re helping to solve a missing link in digital health and care, by helping those with complex medication needs (who are often overlooked) remain independent and healthy for longer.

However, the unique focus of our mission is also its most difficult part: no one has adequately solved this problem before, so we’ve had to start from square one and pave the way for future innovation in the space. You’ve got to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when the hill feels steep. What keeps us going is that we know we are doing something that will fundamentally change the landscape of health & care for years to come.

3. In another life you’d be?

IDP: In another life, I’d probably be a doctor. It was my dream for a long time; but when I started medical school, I quickly realised it just wasn’t for me. However, my passion for health and care and supporting people has remained. By building a solution that supports vulnerable people to manage their care at home, I’m able to both make a difference to people’s lives, and help tackle some of the pressures facing carers and clinicians.

4. Which nascent technology holds the most promise?

IDP: I believe there’s a huge market at the moment for technology that connects existing tech; technology that sits at the back end and is invisible. Digital health and care, for example, is such a patchwork collection of various systems and software that work alongside each other, but often aren’t readily able to work together or share key information and data.

It pains me to see such a disjointed landscape, which fundamentally comes at the cost of good patient care. So any emerging technologies that help link different systems together and remove existing silos is hugely exciting. They promise to unlock more joined-up, collaborative digital solutions to society’s biggest challenges.

5. What’s the best way to promote diversity in the workplace?

IDP: Any company that has to retrofit diversity has already got it wrong. Diversity has to start from day one and diverse leaders build diverse teams. One of the things that I am most proud of is that our team of 12 (and growing) has origins in eight countries and between us we speak 13 different languages (39 if you count programming languages!). I can’t wait for this to be 50 countries and 100 languages one day.

We hire for potential over past experience, which naturally lends itself to more diversity. We bring on people that we believe in and who believe in our mission and purpose. We care about people’s lived experience and philosophy of work, not the big brands on their CV.

Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative tech startups, scaleups and unicorns – is published every Friday.