Founder Story - Daniel James
Currently Co-Founder & CEO at PostureHealth, Daniel James is building solutions to help people achieve their workplace wellness goals so that they can live a more healthy and productive life. Before launching PostureHealth, he spent time in various B2B product, sales, and marketing roles at startups and large companies like Adobe. Daniel is a recent graduate of Yale University where he was a member of the 2017 Ivy League Championship Football Team, A Joseph Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking Fellow, and Startup Yale 1st Place Winner.
What does PostureHealth bring to the marketplace?
At PostureHealth we are building unified digital ergonomic solutions - everything from guiding you to sit better in your new remote work environment with our posture correction software, to treating carpal tunnel via our virtual PT telehealth services, PostureHealth is the only app that you need to live a healthy and productive ergonomic life. We're helping individuals and companies across the world adjust to the new, remote and flexible work world that we live in.
What was your motivation while building PostureHealth?
A big personal problem, and a great group of friends. I went from living an active athletic lifestyle while playing football at Yale University to sitting for over 8 hours a day working at my desk. I developed severe low back pain and carpal tunnel. Luckily, I worked at Adobe, an awesome company that really values employee health. I spoke with Mary Kay Gilhooly, a Global Wellness Manager at Adobe and she helped me realize that the problem was bigger than what I expected.
In fact, back pain due to poor ergonomics costs U.S. employers over $100B a year and is the biggest disease burden in developed countries. My close friend and soon to be co-founder Ion-Alexandru Secara worked on posture recognition software projects throughout college. With his tech skills, my business savviness, and our soon to be third co-founder, Jack Cooney's deep postural rehabilitation expertise, I knew that it would be fun for us to tackle this problem unlike anyone else before.
What do you think is the most challenging thing you're facing at PostureHealth?
Demand. We knew that flexible, remote work would be a trend when we started PostureHealth, but we had no clue that COVID-19 would accelerate the shift so rapidly. This has led to increased demand for our still very small team. We want to help as many people as we can, but we also do understand the importance of receiving feedback from early customers to ensure we have a "must have" product as we look to scale.
Can you tell me a little more about your background before starting PostureHealth?
I've always been a savvy business person. My principal threatened to expel me from middle school for selling so many snacks that I put the school's concession stand out of business. I'd buy the snacks in bulk from Costco and sell them to all my friends before the school concession stand opened everyday. After graduating from High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana I decided to attend Yale University. This is where I became interested in technology, working for various startups in sales and marketing roles before moving to San Francisco to work full time at Adobe.
Out of all of your experience, what do you think best prepared you for your current role?
Playing sports throughout my life. Through sports you learn that the so-called little things are actually very important. Watching just ten more minutes of film on an opponent every day can lead to you making the game winning play. In my current role, I focus most of my time on sales and product management. Both require daily, very detailed focus. Over time, the constant repetitive tasks, like talking to users, ultimately will lead to us creating a game changing company.
Going back to the first day of working on your startup, what advice would you give yourself?
It's a marathon full of sprints. Often I hear the two separated. But, in my experiences, things have gone well when I shift my mindset to realize that everyday is a mini sprint within a long marathon. This keeps me on my toes, while also realizing that in order to sprint the next day, I need to recover and take care of myself. I don't always succeed, but I'm my best when I'm in this state of mind.
What entrepreneurial lesson took you the longest to learn?
Sleep is a superpower. I used to think that it was cool to say that I stayed up all night doing something, but now I've realized that the diminishing returns aren't worth it and that it's immature to devalue sleep.
What constitutes success for you, personally?
I like to break down my life into the eight dimensions of wellness. Emotional, Physical, Social, Occupational, Financial, Environmental, Spiritual, and Intellectual. I feel successful when I'm actively improving each dimension.
Do you have any insights that you want to share with the next generation of Alchemist Accelerator founders?
Team matters. Make sure that you are going on the mission with the right team.
Do you have any insights for the next generation of entrepreneurs who are specifically working in your space?
There's a ton of work to be done, so there's no need to follow another company's trail.
About the Alchemist Accelerator
Alchemist is a venture-backed initiative focused on accelerating the development of seed-stage ventures that monetize from enterprises (not consumers). The accelerator’s primary screening criteria is on teams, with primacy placed on having distinctive technical co-founders. We give companies around $36K, and run them through a structured 6-month program heavily focused on sales, customer development, and fundraising. Our backers include many of the top corporate and VC funds in the Valley—including Khosla Ventures, DFJ, Cisco, and Salesforce, among others. CB Insights has rated Alchemist the top program based on median funding rates of its grads (YC was #2), and Alchemist is perennially in the top of various Accelerator rankings. The accelerator seeds around 75 enterprise-monetizing ventures / year. Learn more about applying today.