Most 23-year-olds are just getting on their feet and struggling to make ends meet after graduating from college. James Proud, however, has already raised millions to fund his startup that creates a device to help people sleep better.
James Proud is the CEO of Hello Inc., which produces a device called the Sense sleep tracker. The Sense is a tiny orb designed to sit on your nightstand and monitor the conditions in your room as you sleep.
The idea is to educate you about your sleeping habits and what’s waking you up in the middle of the night.
Hello Inc.’s Kickstarter campaign for the Sense just ended on Friday, and the company blew past its $US100,000 goal to raise $US2.4 million. But that number represents a small fraction of the total funding Hello Inc. has raised so far. Proud and his company have raised $US10.5 million from a circle of well-connected angel investors, according to The Wall Street Journal, bringing their total funding to nearly $US13 million.
Some of Proud’s investors include tech industry big shots such as David Marcus, the former head of PayPal, Dan Rose, a Facebook executive, and Hugo Barra, a Xiamoi executive who formerly worked as Google’s head of product for Android, as the Journal reports.
Proud said his inspiration for the Sense stemmed from a basic concept: everyone needs to sleep, and most people want to learn how to sleep better.
“Most people don’t walk a lot every single day,” Proud told Business Insider in a previous interview. “But everyone has to sleep every single day. … Your day is purely influenced by how you slept the previous night.”
Proud’s desire to create things began to show at a very young age. When he was 9 years old, Proud taught himself HTML after seeing a book called “Your Own Website” in a store, according to Forbes. By age 12, he was already building professional websites.
Proud says he always had a desire to attend college, but by the time he had graduated from high school, he had a change of heart, as Forbes reports. Instead, the South London native opted to join Peter Thiel’s fellowship in 2011 — a program in which the billionaire investor pays young entrepreneurs to skip out on a traditional college education to pursue their business ideas.
Proud’s first startup, GigLocator, was the product of his time in Thiel’s fellowship. GigLocator, a live music aggregation service, was bought by the owner of the Williamsburg-based Brooklyn Bowl venue almost immediately after Proud’completed Thiel’s program in 2012.
After GigLocator was bought, Proud began working on Hello Inc. The Sense sleep tracker is Hello Inc.’s first product, and it will retail for $US129 when it eventually launches.
The secret to making a successful tech product, Proud says, is to create something that works so well it fits naturally into your everyday life.
“Technology is most valuable when you don’t have to think about it,” Proud said to Business Insider previously. “That’s when it becomes magical.”
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