Each week in the New Tech Newsletter we feature a Spotlight Q&A with founders, angels, New Tech alumni presenters, and other people or companies in our community we believe you’d like to learn about. Reach out if you’d like to recommend a startup, founder, angel, accelerator, or New Tech alumni presenter for us to spotlight for the PNW tech community!
Why do you do what you do for a living?
I am the Founder and CEO of Palmplug Inc, a tech company that focuses on building wearable technologies for spatial computing interactions.
Why did you start your company?
I started Palmplug because of my passion for technology and how it can be used to greatly improve peoples lives. Palmplug started in a music classroom for visually impaired students. At the time I was taking music lessons with my music instructor who happened to teach visually impaired kids how to play musical instruments like the piano and saxophone. Fay had an interesting way of teaching, She would gently tap the back of my fingers to let me know what fingers to move to play a musical note and as she did the idea of a smart glove that could simulate this experience at the back of the hand was born. Watching a visually impaired kid use a prototype I had built to fluently play the piano set me on a path to build technologies around the hand.
What is one of the greatest lessons you’ve learned from being a founder/CEO?
The biggest lesson I have learned so far on my journey is to find mentors who have gone through a similar process or people who have industry experience in what you are building. Yes you can read many books on certain topics which I highly encourage, but mentors can really accelerate your learning and save you from potential pit falls.
What is the one piece of advice you would share today with your younger self before you started your company?
Looking back I would tell my younger self to just go for it and to choose good over perfect. Something I personally struggled with was not releasing something that wasn’t perfect. Now I have come to learn that perfection is the journey and not the end goal.
What is something interesting and unexpected that people would be surprised to learn about you?
After moving to the US for college I realized I had dyslexia and problems with my vision which impacted my ability to learn while growing up. On numerous occasions I was asked to change my career aspirations from engineering to arts by my academic counselor who didn’t understand the root cause of my poor performance. Getting glasses and using tools such as speech to text to guide me while reading changed everything for me. In my first semester of college I got a 4.0 GPA and for the first time in my life I had gotten a perfect score. I was encouraged to pursue a career in engineering and I proceeded to study computer science at the University of California Irvine. After college I got my first job as a software engineer at Microsoft where I worked for 4 years and today I own my own company Palmplug.
My journey has been really humbling and I have come to appreciate the people who keep supporting me regardless of how hard things get. I have also come to realize how impactful assistive technology can be in our society and how it can be used to change peoples lives which is something I aim to achieve with Palmplug.