Nitin Jain, Co-Founder @Assert AI, Interview On building a Data-Driven Future with AI-Powered Video Analytics Solutions.

Meet Nitin Jain, the visionary behind Assert AI, a leading provider of artificial intelligence-based video analytics solutions in India. Nitin is passionate about using AI to drive efficiency and data-driven decision-making for his clients in sectors including warehousing, manufacturing, retail, and energy. 

With over 15 years of experience in the tech industry, Nitin has a diverse background that includes stints as a consultant, business researcher, and strategic manager at companies such as 2S Consulting, Capgemini and PerkinElmer. 

In 2017, he co-founded Assert AI, a software product that could analyse CCTV feeds in real-time and provide valuable insights to businesses across various sectors. Today, he leads a team of 65 people, including 45 AI engineers, and serves a diverse group of clients, including Fortune 500 companies in India and North America. 

In this interview, Nitin discusses his startup journey, shares his thoughts on AI’s future, and offers valuable advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and engineering students.

YC – Nitin, Welcome to the Yellow Chapter. It’s great to have you here. Our goal today is to understand better who you are as a person, your life experiences and choices, and learn more about Assert AI. Please tell us a bit about your upbringing, family, and education.

Nitin– I had a happy childhood growing up in a middle-class family in Modinagar, a small town in Uttar Pradesh, India.

My father worked at one of Modi group companies. My mother is a devoted and caring person who always puts the well-being of her family first. She just wants to see her children happy. She has always approached difficult situations with kindness and compassion, which has impacted me.

As the youngest of three siblings, I have always received a lot of love and support from my family. My oldest brother, Puneet Jain, is a software engineer in the United States. He attended IIT Bombay in 1995 and has been a role model for me throughout my life. My other brother, Amit Jain, is a practising cardiologist in Meerut.

YC- Why engineering?

Nitin- I didn’t think much about what I wanted to do during my school years. As a teenager in the 1990s, I felt like I had three main career options: engineering, medicine, or accounting. 

I ruled out pursuing a medical career because I anticipated it would require much hard work and studying.

Ultimately, I decided to pursue a career in engineering because of my interest in physics and maths. I was told that engineering is a culmination of both. I thought it would be an excellent way to continue learning about the things I enjoyed.

2000- I was accepted into IIT Bombay to study B.Tech. in Engineering Physics πŸŽ“πŸŽ“πŸŽ“. It’s interesting to think about how I ended up there, as my older brother also studied the same subject at the same institute. He was a significant influence and motivator for me in this decision.

YC- A lot of engineering students read my blog. Can you share some suggestions on how they can make the most of their college experience?

Nitin: Sure,

1. Explore and Find Your Interests πŸ”πŸ”: There are many opportunities for engineering students to gain exposure and experience. For example, internships at companies can provide a good option for students to try out different fields before committing to one. 

Additionally, some students may be able to work with a company for an entire year. If you have a clear idea of your interests, explore these opportunities early on in your college.

In college, I didn’t have the opportunity to try different careers or fields before committing to one. Many people, including myself, ended up working for a few years before deciding if it was a field we were interested in. This is why many people pursue an MBA after realising their current career path differs from their interests. An MBA can serve as an “exit option” for those transitioning into another field.

2. Balance is essential βš–οΈβš–οΈ: It’s important to find a balance between extracurricular and academic activities, as people seem to be experiencing high levels of stress these days. In my experience, college students often had a more balanced approach to these two things in the past. 

It’s crucial to remember that these four years of your life are not going to come back. It’s essential to focus on your studies but find time to enjoy other aspects of college. Building friendships and connecting with others can be particularly important, as they can last a lifetime.

3. Join Clubs: Most colleges and universities offer a wide range of clubs for students, and it’s crucial to take advantage of these opportunities. While some students may feel hesitant to join clubs due to academic pressure, participating in extracurricular activities can be highly beneficial. 

By joining a club, students can develop a well-rounded sense of self by being exposed to different personality types and experiences. In addition, these activities can provide valuable skills and experiences that can be beneficial in later life. Finding a balance between academic and extracurricular activities is essential to make the most of your college experience.

YC- What advice would you give engineering students considering changing or selecting a new job? What attitude or approach should they take when exploring new opportunities?

Nitin- The first four to five years of your career can be particularly critical as it sets the foundation for the rest of your professional journey. The choices and experiences you make during this time can significantly impact your career trajectory. While it is still possible to change career paths later on, the opportunities and experiences in the early years can be incredibly influential. Therefore, I recommend taking full advantage of these early years and making the most of any opportunities that come your way.

Instead of solely focusing on financial gain πŸ’°, consider pursuing job opportunities that align with your passion for learning and skill development πŸ“–.

 For example, if you are interested in AI, try to find a job that will give you exposure to that field. Prioritise learning and take on opportunities that will positively impact your career. Keep in mind that knowledge and skill acquired can open up opportunities in future, and not only money is the key to success.

Be authentic and transparent regarding your job search: It’s become common for people to “window shop” for new job opportunities, primarily focusing on salary packages and negotiating for higher pay. 

However, it’s important to remember that a job is about more than just financial compensation. Building relationships, fostering a positive work culture, and maintaining integrity and ethics are all crucial factors to consider when seeking a new job. Finding a role that aligns with your values and career aspirations is essential.

YC- Could you tell me about your professional roadmap? How did you go about planning your career path? 

Nitin: Absolutely.  

2004: Senior Consultant @2S Consulting πŸ’»πŸ’»πŸ’»

It is often said that the first job πŸ›„ and the first love πŸ’• are memories that will stay with you forever. Upon graduation, I had several job offers, but I decided to work for a boutique consulting firm called 2S Consulting. The company was an initiative founded by two senior IIT alumni, and I was the first employee to join the team. 

My goal was to gain practical experience and develop my entrepreneurial skills, as I had always dreamed of starting my own business someday. The experience I gained working with 2S Consulting was invaluable and one I will always cherish.


1. From my first day, I was allowed to work with clients, which is unusual for a recent graduate in the consulting field.

2. This experience gave me a lot of confidence and helped me learn about interacting with people and explaining ideas to senior management.

3. This job helped me gain functional and business knowledge that has been invaluable in my entrepreneurial journey.

4. It prepared me well for the challenges I would face in the future.

May 2006- Co-Founder and Director @Infolitics (I&A)

I&A stands for Information and Analytics – An information research company specialising in market and intellectual property research.

I started this company with three classmates from IIT Bombay. Infolitics created a niche in growing logistics and real-estate sector research. Infolitics collaborated with firms in the US and Canada to provide high-end research solutions to clients across the globe.

Why KPO – Given our backgrounds and current work experience, we decided to focus our efforts on the knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) industry. Each of us had some connection to this field, whether through consulting or intellectual property research. 

As a consultant, I helped clients with their growth strategies while my partners were engaged in research to protect patents and other forms of intellectual property. We had several years of experience working in this industry before starting our own company, making it a natural fit for us.

Our first four to five clients came from our network. We leveraged our connections through alum networks and reached out to individuals globally. Additionally, LinkedIn proved to be a valuable tool for gaining clients.

Learnings from Infolitics πŸ€“πŸ€“

Dealing with Conflicts βš”οΈβš”οΈ: Starting a company with friends at a young age can be challenging, especially when it comes to defining and understanding everyone’s roles. In the early stages of a startup, it’s common for everyone to wear many hats and take on various responsibilities. However, if positions are not clearly defined, it can lead to conflicts among team members. Therefore, it is essential for co-founders in any early-stage startup to be transparent and clear about each person’s role and responsibilities. This is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my experiences.

Delegation and Team Building: We initially handled sales and project execution. Eventually, we realised that this approach was not sustainable in the long term. Scalability became a significant challenge.

It’s crucial to shift away from trying to do everything yourself and instead focus on building a team that can manage and grow the business.

We used to work incredibly long hours, securing projects and executing them ourselves. One of the things I learned was the importance of creating a scalable model for the business. This involves finding the right people, investing in them, training them, and nurturing them so they can grow with the company. This is how startups can scale and succeed in the long run.

The journey was enjoyable; even today, we remain close friends. We gained valuable learnings from our experience at I&A.

Dec 2008: Senior Consultant, Consulting Services @Capgemini Consulting

Honestly, I had no desire to return to a corporate job. However, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008 made it challenging for our startup to maintain operations. We attempted to keep going without new projects for a few months, but it became increasingly difficult. We observed many other startups facing similar struggles and shutting down. Ultimately, we decided to close our operations and return to corporate employment.

Learnings from Capgemini πŸ€“πŸ€“: The typical corporate job I was involved working as part of a team to achieve group goals. While this experience was rewarding, I realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. This realisation reignited my desire to create something again.

June 2010- Senior Manager-Business Research @NetScribes

NetScribes is one of the leading research companies, boasting over 1000 employees. When I joined the company, they were looking to expand their business research practice in Mumbai, and I was brought on to lead the research wing. I closely collaborated with the Founder Director, Sourav Mukherjee, to develop and grow this division. 

It was a positive experience, and I have fond memories of my time there. The team was young and energetic, with an average age range of 20 to 24. The founder was open to new ideas and gave his employees a lot of autonomy. 

However, my tenure with NetScribes was brief as another opportunity presented itself with PerkinElmer.

2011: Manager- Strategic Research @PerkinElmer

PerkinElmer is a $2 billion company, and when I joined them, they were looking to establish their strategy vertical in India from the ground up. This presented a fantastic opportunity that aligned with my entrepreneurial journey. 

Building a new vertical is similar to starting a new company altogether. I assisted in making their research and analytics functions from scratch. I spent around four years at PerkinElmer, established a team, and once the processes were in place, I decided to move on to new opportunities.

YC- Could you tell me more about your professional journey? Were you considering starting your own company, or were you happy with the direction your career was heading?

Nitin- Starting my own company had always been in my mind, even during my stint at Capgemini. It was a matter of finding the right ideas, products, and partners to pursue.

During this time, I came across the Startup Leadership Programme, offered in 40 cities worldwide. The program selects and trains 20-25 high-potential entrepreneurs. It runs for six months, usually on the second Saturday of each month.

The program includes an opportunity to pitch your business idea to venture capitalists and investors. I was selected for the Mumbai chapter and began working with them. This experience re-ignited my entrepreneurial spirit.

YC- In between, you had a brief stint at OYO.

Nitin- In late 2014, I decided to start my own company and explore different business ideas. At the same time, OYO was in the early stages of its journey and looking for someone to help establish operations in western India, with about 100 properties in Gurgaon.

OYO reached out to me for assistance. While I initially did not plan on staying at OYO for an extended period, as my primary focus was on starting my venture. During this time, I stumbled upon my next big idea, MachaDalo.

YC- Why MachaDalo? Why did you choose to pursue the advertisement space industry?

Nitin– MachaDalo was a technology company that aimed to address the problem of measuring return on investment (ROI) for offline advertising methods such as hoardings and billboards. This issue was brought to light during my time at OYO, where I noticed that they had allocated a significant budget for offline advertising. Still, there was no way to track the effectiveness of these methods. Recognising this gap in the market for data-driven offline advertising solutions led to the creation of MachaDalo.

The lack of data-driven solutions for offline advertising was a significant gap in the market that could be addressed through a technology platform. 

Our goal was to create a platform that functioned like a “Google for offline media,” and that’s how we began. A close friend of mine joined as a co-founder, and the company was running well. However, over time, we realised that the model we used heavily depended on operations, mainly collecting data from specific neighbourhoods.

For example, we would go to a specific area like Powai and gather information on the demographics of the residents, the types of vehicles they drove, their family sizes, the clubs they belonged to, and so on. However, we found that this data was constantly changing, with around 40% being updated every six months.

In 2017, we realised that although the business had the potential to be a lifestyle business, it was not something that could be scaled significantly. Therefore, we decided that one of us would continue running the business while the other would take an exit. I decided to take a leave in 2017. 

Learnings from MachaDaalo:

1. Build a scalable model: When starting a business, it’s crucial to have a long-term vision for the next five years and 20 years. To achieve this, it’s essential to have a scalable business model. A scalable model allows a business to grow and adapt to new opportunities and challenges, helping it sustain long-term.

2. Team Building: Macha Dalo had about 35 employees at its peak. During my tenure as CEO, I gained valuable experience building a team, setting goals, establishing roles and responsibilities, and managing to hire. My previous startup (I&A) was brief and did not reach the same scaling level. It was through Macha Dalo that I truly learned the ins and outs of the business side of things. Despite limited funding, I had a lot of responsibilities and seeing the entire cycle helped me to understand how the business works.

YC- After departing from MachaDalo in December 2017, you started Assert AI. Can you tell us about your journey and how you ended up in the field of AI? What led to the creation of Assert?

Nitin– After leaving MachaDalo, I considered my next steps. I invested two and a half years and all my savings into the company. Now I had to decide whether to return to the startup world or get a more traditional job. This decision was tough because I had a family to take care of. I initially decided to take on a job and work for a few years before trying entrepreneurship again. I recognised that starting a business is a journey that the whole family takes, and it’s vital to have the support of your family.

During this period of uncertainty, my wife, Priti, stood by me and asked me what I truly wanted to do. I shared with her that I was still interested in entrepreneurship but felt discouraged. She told me, β€œIf you want to do something, why don’t you do it now? You’re already at the bottom of things. The only way you can move is up.” Her words gave me the courage to start again.

During this time, my close friend Job Philip shared his desire to start a venture together. We agreed that I would start the company with us both as co-founders, and he would support the company financially for a year and then decide to leave his job and fully dedicate himself to the company if it shows good progress. That’s how the journey of Assert AI began – A computer vision- SaaS company that offers artificial intelligence-based video analytics solutions.

@ Team Assert AI

YC- Why did you choose to pursue AI as the focus of your business after leaving MachaDalo and starting Assert AI?

Nitin- After leaving MachaDalo, we researched various industries extensively to identify where we could add value. Initially, we considered exploring the security field as India still has a lot of room for improvement in this area, both for customers and businesses. 

We then expanded our research to other countries like Hong Kong, Korea, and China to gain insights into their security advancements. During this research, we discovered the AI vertical. We realised many companies focused on hardware-based products, such as cameras with facial recognition or automatic licence plate reading capabilities.

This sparked an idea: what if we developed a software-based solution instead of a hardware-based product? We saw an opportunity to create a software product that could analyse any CCTV feed in real time. We shared this idea with potential customers and their initial positive responses. 

People had never considered the potential for CCTV cameras to provide real-time information beyond just surveillance and security. Encouraged by the feedback, we started developing the product and focusing on marketing and sales. That’s how Assert AI was founded.

YC – Nitin, can we discuss numbers, ideal customers, business models, and competition?

Nitin: Team: Currently, our team comprises 65 individuals, with 45 of them being AI engineers. We boast one of the largest computer vision teams in India and have successfully deployed over 20,000 cameras on our platform, positioning us as a leading integrator in the market.

What sets us apart:

1. Our cross-industry expertise sets us apart – Our clients come from various sectors, including warehousing, manufacturing, retail, BFSI, and energy. Through working in these different industries, our machine-learning algorithms have become well-refined, and clients are impressed with the high level of accuracy we can provide.

2. Our solution is designed for on-premise deployment – All video clips are analysed on a local GPU device, ensuring that client feeds never need to be transmitted to a cloud for analysis. This means the entire system can be deployed and run entirely on the client’s premises. This also reduces any latency in the system and makes it more usable for the client. 

3. Our solution is cost-effective and highly secure. In addition to the benefits above, our solution is cost-effective and highly secure, making it an excellent option for the client.

Competition: In India, several players exist in the AI market. Most players are focusing on the retail industry, as it was one of the early adopters of AI solutions to understand footfall and customer behaviour. 

Examples of these companies include, which specialises in retail.

Additionally, some companies are highly specialised in specific areas. For example, some companies focus on diagnostics by using AI to analyse X-rays and diagnostic reports. This technology can be used to track the progression of cancer over time. One of the leading companies in this space is

Our Niche: We initially focused on the warehousing industry as it was an untapped market at the time. As a result, a significant portion of our revenue, 60-65%, comes from the warehousing sector. To date, we are the only company to offer a comprehensive warehousing solution, which has resulted in a lack of competition in this industry. Additionally, we are now focusing on expanding into the manufacturing sector as another vertical for our business.

Competition is a good thing in business as it signifies growth in the industry and a demand for new players. I welcome it and see it as a positive indication that the market is expanding. A lack of competition could mean the industry is no longer attractive to new players. 

However, as the industry grows, it’s essential to maintain the quality of your product, be transparent with your customers, and deliver the best possible service. Do not compromise on these values, as they will ultimately help you succeed in the long run.

We’ve recently started our journey in North America. There are some highly specialised players in North America. Netradyne does a lot of analysis around driver safety.

Customers:  We currently serve around 35 large customers, most of whom have been acquired within the last three years. Before that, we were primarily focused on developing our product. Over the past two and a half years, we have experienced significant growth and have begun working with Fortune 500 companies in India and North America.

We anticipate earning over one and a half million dollars in revenue this year. We plan to expand our operations in the coming year, focusing on the North American market. We anticipate rapid growth in the United States based on current indicators. Our goal for next year is $4 million.

@ Team Assert AI

YC- SaaS founders have three problems: product-market fit, marketing, and sales. You’ve already talked about product-market fit. Any tips on marketing and sales? How did you get your initial customers? 

1. Understand the needs of your target market before building a product – People may be biased towards thinking their product is perfect. Still, it’s essential to validate that assumption by gathering feedback from potential customers. To do this, reach out to a few companies in your target market and ask if they need your product and what specific features they want to see. For example, in our case, we contacted companies in the warehouse industry to gauge their interest in a computer vision solution and used their feedback to tailor our product to their specific needs.

2. Founders should not assume they have all the knowledge and expertise in sales and marketing. It’s essential to seek help from experienced professionals in the field. One solution is to hire someone with a proven track record of success in your industry to lead the sales process. However, founders should also actively participate in sales efforts and work towards promoting their business. It’s a good balance of leveraging the expertise of a pro while also staying involved in the sales process and aware of the market.

3. To overcome bottlenecks in B2B, we built a network of strategic partners, specifically OEMs, who manufacture cameras. We established partnerships with 8-10 of them, resulting in nearly 80% of inquiries coming through the partner network, a cost-effective way of generating new business. To be successful, it’s essential to understand the industry ecosystem and identify potential partners, create mutually beneficial value, and help them provide value to their clients, which will grow both their business and yours.

YC- How did you determine that warehousing was the right industry to focus on?

Nitin- When we say we specialise in warehousing, it doesn’t mean that we only serve that industry; we work with clients across multiple industries. However, warehousing has been our primary focus area because it’s where we started our business.

Initially, we conducted research by reaching out to ten Fortune 500 companies. We realised while companies understood their warehouse operations well, they had limited visibility into dock operations. This led us to develop solutions specifically for these areas. Still, as we delved deeper, we realised that there were many challenges and areas for improvement in the entire warehousing system.

Our solutions generate a large amount of data that was not previously available. For example, when CCTV cameras are integrated with our solutions, it starts providing data about people, safety, machine productivity, counting, and more. By recording and analysing this data, you can gain valuable insights into your daily operations.

YC- What advice or suggestions would you like to share with other startup founders who are just starting their entrepreneurial journey?

Nitin- 1. Start a business for the right reasons: ensure your idea addresses a problem in the industry or adds value to the ecosystem.

2. It’s essential to have the support of your family when embarking on the entrepreneurial journey, as it can be tough at times. Having loved ones by your side is important to provide emotional and practical support. πŸ‘ͺπŸ‘ͺ

3. Prioritise product-market fit: Make sure to focus on the needs of your target market before developing your product. Validate your ideas by consulting with relevant industry players.

4. Co-founder selection: Consider starting a business with friends, but be selective and have a clear plan for roles and responsibilities. Designate decision-makers for critical areas like technology, marketing, and sales while allowing for strategic collaboration.

5. Managing cash flow πŸ’·πŸ’·: Understand your financials, and keep track of your bank balance, creditors, and debtors. Pay attention to cash flow to ensure the financial health of your business.

YC- What motivates you to keep going during challenging times? 🎯🎯

Nitin– My primary motivation is to create value for others, and as an entrepreneur in the IT industry, I am committed to creating job opportunities. Specifically, my goal is to create thousands of jobs through my startups. My ambition is to build something I can be proud of, and creating employment is the driving force behind my entrepreneurial endeavours.

Nitin, it was a great conversation. Thank you for your time. Yellow Chapter wishes you the best in your future endeavours.

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