James Li: Encouraging Mighty Health for 50+
Hi! It’s me, Spiffy the interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. Lately I’ve been talking to entrepreneurs making a difference in healthcare for all of us around the world. It’s a privilege to introduce today’s superstar, James Li of Mighty Health.
Spiffy: So James, Mighty Health sounds like a strong start up! Can you tell me what it is?
James: Absolutely, Spiffy! Mighty Health is the first ever comprehensive wellness app for people over the age of 50. Each member receives three key benefits when they join: 1) a dedicated personal coach, 2) joint-friendly workouts, personalized nutrition plans, and lessons on healthy aging, and finally, 3) celebrations with family and a member community (to combat the loneliness a lot of us are facing this year)! We’ve already helped thousands of members across all 50 states and five countries lose an average of 7% of their weight and triple their exercise activity in the first three months of joining!
Spiffy: Wow! You’re right! I’ve never reported on an app for earthlings in the second half of life. I’m guessing you’re not 50, so tell me, what motivated you to launch this?
James: Ha, no! I’m not 50, yet. You know, growing up we often think of our parents as invincible. But a few years ago, my dad was suddenly rushed to the hospital for emergency open heart surgery. Afterwards, the doctor was clear: he had to drastically change his lifestyle, or else he’d be back in months. We struggled to find fitness and nutrition programs for people his age. While there are amazing programs for millennials, there are almost no apps for older adults that account for evolving needs like joint pain or tech savviness.
Joint-friendly workouts in Mighty Health. Image courtesy of James Li.
Spiffy: So you more or less developed this with your dad in mind?! He’s one lucky guy. What else has motivated you?
James: Well, did you know that over the next 30 years, the number of older adults will nearly double, but the outlook for their health is starker than ever? 80% of older adults have at least one chronic condition, worsened by skyrocketing rates of obesity and hypertension. Add to that COVID-19, and this high risk population won't be able to return to gyms and community centers for the foreseeable future, increasing loneliness and social isolation. There’s never been a bigger need for an accessible, digital-first solution!
Spiffy: You’re right, this is a very crucial time for people to tap into Mighty Health. How have you worked at spreading the word?
James: We recently began offering the option for anyone to gift Mighty Health memberships to parents and loved ones, especially for holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Christmas. With health being more meaningful than ever this year, it means a lot to our loved ones to show them that we’re thinking of and care about their health and well being.
Spiffy: What a great idea! So James, I’m not sure if you know, but I always ask entrepreneurs about failure. I want kids to know that failure is a crucial part of success. Have you ever experienced failure and what did you learn from it?
James: Spiffy, you’re absolutely right. One major learning experience was with our last company. We were one payroll away from running out of money — multiple times! Through a last-ditch effort, a prominent accelerator invested in us, giving us enough runway to kickstart our growth and eventually lead our company to an acquisition. Looking back, we’ve learned that even in the lowest of lows, there are always paths forward to alter your destiny if you work with great people and have enough grit and purpose.
Spiffy: That would be stressful! But I can tell you have the calmness and focus to keep at it. Is there one more bit of wisdom you can share with our audience?
James: I came across a fantastic quote by James Clear recently: "How to achieve exceptional results:
- Quantity: You take lots of shots.
- Quality: You take thoughtful shots.
- Consistency: You keep shooting for a long time.
- Feedback. You take better shots over time.
- Luck: You get a few favorable bounces."
As second-time founders, we’ve learned that startups are just as much about executing with discipline, week in and week out, as it is about the splashy things. Over the last 10 years, founders spanning various industries have proven again and again that it’s possible to build massive, revolutionary businesses and climb any mountain. My sincere hope is that in the next 10 years, we will all be more impact-driven and intentional about what mountains to climb, and in turn, dedicate our lives to making the world a better place.
Spiffy: James, you’ve inspired me to go out, do some stretching, and keep reporting on inspiring entrepreneurs like you! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. It has been an honor.
James Li is the co-founder and CEO of Mighty Health, a Y Combinator company backed by Vivek Garipalli (CEO of Clover Health), NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana, RRE Ventures, and NextView Ventures. Previously, James co-founded Encore Alert, a social media analytics platform that was acquired by Meltwater in 2016. James also regularly writes and speaks about practical startup tactics at his site, JamesLi.com, and his work has been featured in the Washington Post, TechCrunch, NPR, and Bloomberg. (Nominated by SaaS Ventures)