Cancer patient engagement platform Ankr crowned winner of Ion’s Houston Startup Showcase


Four finalists from the Ion’s Houston Startup Showcase presented their companies on November 17th. Ankr, a cancer education and navigation platform, won the competition. (Courtesy of The Ion)

Ankr, a Houston-based cancer education and navigation platform, was named the winner of The Ion’s Houston Startup Showcase.

With a prize of $ 10,000 and legal backing of $ 10,000 from the law firm Baker Botts, Ankr beat three other finalists, including CaseCTRL, Studio Pod and Cemvita Factory, in a showdown that saw the companies pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.

For Ankr, winning the competition was more than earning a salary; the year-long competition validated the direction the company took when it launched in January, said oncologist and founder Dr Arpit Rao.

“We knew we were on the right track,” Rao said in an interview with Community impact journal. “But when you find yourself in front of this audience of investors, industry insiders, these guys who spend their entire lives building businesses like ours and patients, you get validation. “

Currently, Ankr provides its platform through its website, through its mobile app on iOS to around 50,000 people with 16,000 active registered users, Rao said. Ankr also has future plans to expand to Android.

The patient engagement platform has been successful in not only centralizing a patient’s cancer information in one place, but also detailing important clinical information and valuable resources, according to the website. Ankr. Ankr’s 11-person team also designed the platform to be seamless with a doctor’s office to keep physicians better informed of a patient’s condition and to streamline the process of collecting patient’s. information through its symptom support services, Rao said.

“The Ankr platform, with the artificial intelligence with a bunch of really smart algorithms driving it, automatically gives you the most likely risk of side effects you’re going to ask for today,” Rao said.

As Ankr moves forward, it plans to become a 20-person operation in its Houston office by the end of 2022 and serve more Houstonians not only directly through its product, but also through integration with institutions at Texas Medical Center in Houston, Rao said.

Last year’s Ion’s Houston Startup Showcase, which started with 24 startups at the start of the year and narrowed down to the last four, was the largest platform attended for The Ion, said Jan Odegard, executive director of The Ion.

“This means that we actually have a megaphone to communicate to the community about these exciting startups, and we can be that platform for startups that don’t fit into a particular accelerator or incubator,” Odegard said.

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