Meet Gates Millennium Scholar x Entrepreneur: James Li, GMS 2009

Meet James Li, Gates Millennium Scholar, Class of 2009

Mighty Health


James Li  is the Co-Founder and CEO of Mighty Health, a highly personalized, at-home digital health coach that uses AI and behavioral science to help people with heart disease change their daily habits, improve their health, and reduce their risk of costly future cardiac events.

Previously, James founded and served as CEO of Encore Alert, a marketing intelligence platform that helps executives at brands like IDEO, Denver Broncos, University of Michigan, Under Armour, and the American Cancer Society identify and act on the top 5 daily crises and opportunities facing their brand, their competitors, and their industry. In March 2016, Encore Alert was acquired by Meltwater, the leading media intelligence platform.

James also regularly writes and speaks about practical startup tactics at his site,, and his work has been featured in the Washington Post, TechCrunch, NPR, and Bloomberg.

GMS: Tell us about Mighty Health?

James: Mighty Health is a digital cardiac health program that helps heart patients improve their health and avoid costly hospitalizations. Dr. Bernard Chang (medical co-founder) was the youngest ever in the history of emergency medicine to attain a top tier, multi-million dollar NIH grant (researching the intersection of cardiovascular disease and psychology). He is a practicing physician and Vice Chair of Research at Columbia, with an MD from Stanford and PhD in Psychology from Harvard. James Li (CEO) and Felipe Lopes (CTO) previously founded a software solution used by organizations ranging from Tufts Medical Center to the American Cancer Society, which they successfully led to an acquisition. Mighty Health was in the Summer 2019 batch of Y Combinator, and their investors include Vivek Garipalli (Clover Health), Max Wessel (CIO of SAP), NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana (Liquid 2 Ventures), RRE Ventures, and NextView Ventures.

GMS:  What inspired you to create Mighty Health?

James: My dad had to have emergency open heart surgery back when I was in college. Luckily, The surgery was successful, but that was only the beginning of our problems. As you may know, heart disease is the #1 leading cause of death around the world and the American Heart Association recently found that over half of Americans – 121 million people – have some sort of heart disease. When people are diagnosed, like my dad, they’re sent home and told by their doctors to just “eat healthy” and “exercise more,” with no support or accountability. It’s no wonder that people are anxious and overwhelmed, continue their bad habits, and up to half of heart patients end up back in the hospital within 6 months.

GMS: Please tell us (related to your business) how the Gates Millennium Scholarship Program directly or indirectly had a part in your path to being an entrepreneur:

James: The Gates Millennium Scholarship was one of the biggest factors that enabled me to become an entrepreneur. It allowed me to choose an undergraduate business program I really wanted to attend, regardless of the cost. I was able to graduate college with no debt, which empowered me to be able to dream bigger and start a company right after graduation. It also allowed me to have financial peace of mind in college as my dad was going through his health issues (above), so I could focus on my studies and supporting him in other ways.

GMS: What advice would you give to other Gates Millennium Scholars who have aspirations to become an entrepreneur?

James: What would you do if you could not fail? Utilize the time when you have lower financial overhead (in school or recently graduated) to take risks and create something. The best way to learn to be a better entrepreneurship is to start early and get the reps in.


To connect with Mighty Health, visit their Facebook and LinkedIn Pages, and follow them on Instagram and Twitter.