Running a company with a treadmill inside, in the middle of Silicon Valley, is not what Monisha Perkash had imagined when she and her parents immigrated to the U.S. from Nepal.
"When I first moved out here, I got a call from my father, who was living in Texas, and he said, 'You know, Monisha, I've looked all over the map and I can't find the Silicon Valley anywhere,'" Perkash said.
Silicon Valley is not just a region in California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose, and it is not just the home of tech giants such as Google, Apple and Facebook. Perkash said an important characteristic is that Silicon Valley is a culture that embodies entrepreneurship. This culture is infectious, and it touched Perkash when she came to Silicon Valley.
"At first my parents were very confused. I had started out pre-med and I got into medical school, and when I chose not to go, they didn't understand why," said Perkash, who is co-founder and chief executive officer of Lumo Bodytech.
She and her two co-founders wanted to form a startup using technology to improve the lives of people. They created Lumo Bodytech to develop wearable sensors.
One of their products, Lumo Run, can be worn on a runner's waistband to track the person's movements. Paired with a mobile phone, it can give the runner personalized coaching. Another sensor, the Lumo Lift, is worn in the collar area of a shirt and vibrates when the wearer slouches, as a reminder to sit up.
Journey of co-founders
Lumo Bodytech's co-founder and chief operating officer, Charles Wang, said the sensors will help improve posture and reduce the risk of injuries and back pain.
"There are a lot of studies that show posture being highly correlated with back pain, back health," said Wang, who was born in the U.S. of parents from Taiwan.
He initially followed the path many immigrant parents envisioned for their children. Wang was a physician and practiced medicine before deciding to become an entrepreneur. He said his parents were very supportive.
"I think for them it was just about, 'Can you find something to do that you really care about and passionate about doing,'" Wang said.
The third co-founder, Chief Technology Officer Andrew Chang, said being part of a startup is unlike any previous job he has experienced: "You can't even compare the speed that you move at, the speed at which you make decisions, in which things happen and so on and so forth, because there is a lot less bureaucracy."
Chang added, "There's a lot of people here that really want to change the world. We're at a point in time where we have all the technical infrastructure in place to allow for that to happen, to have a small group of people to make dramatic improvements that can ricochet all across the world just because of how connected we are now."
Making parents proud
Perkash said Silicon Valley's connectedness and collaborative nature fuel the startup culture here. Seeing the success of her startup has been a source of joy for her parents, she added.
"I want to make them proud, and I want them to know that by giving us this opportunity to pursue anything we want, pursue our dreams, that I'm carrying that on. So in a lot of ways, it's honoring them that I do what I do," Perkash said.
For anyone who wants to follow in her footsteps, Perkash's advice is to not fear failure but embrace it as an opportunity to learn.