A Slice on James Woodson, Founder and CEO of Pulsara
It all started with a dinner party. James Woodson and his colleagues in a democratic emergency medicine group met up for steak and wine and took part in a Shark Tank-esque competition. Each person was tasked with giving a presentation, and they’d all vote for a winner at the end of the night. Woodson presented his idea for a regional communication network designed to connect those within the healthcare industry. His idea took off, and Pulsara was created in 2013 after a few iterations. Within a month of operating, Pulsara was already showing a 28% decrease in heart attack treatment times and 40% in stroke treatment times. Since then, they’ve made significant impacts on the healthcare industry and are truly changing the lives of patients and caregivers. To date, Pulsara serves about 1,000 contracted organizations across the globe.
Woodson describes Pulsara as a “next-generation communication and telehealth platform designed to connect distributed teams.” Currently, most communication in the healthcare system is done via fax, radio, and phone. These outdated methods often lead to miscommunication between care providers and can have major impacts on the patient… even death. This is especially true with time-sensitive emergencies such as heart attacks or strokes, and now even COVID-19. By giving the status quo a much-needed update, Pulsara is able to streamline communication between providers (no matter where they are), build a care team for each individual patient and ultimately reduce treatment times.
When thinking of a place to start a healthtech company, Montana is probably low on most people’s lists. It wasn’t originally where Woodson wanted to start Pulsara, either. At the time, Woodson was living in Texas and was planning on starting Pulsara in Dallas or Austin (larger cities close to home) but one of his founding members/mentors had a connection with Jerry Nettuno, founder and CEO of Schedulicity, a SaaS company out of Bozeman that’s raised $46.9 million to date. Woodson packed up his life and headed to Bozeman, Montana, where he would find a surprisingly supportive startup community. Now, Pulsara has employees in multiple cities and everyone is very accustomed to remote work life. When COVID-19 hit the US in 2020, the team at Pulsara skipped the frantic transition many other companies were forced to make and were able to continue disrupting the healthcare industry.
Though fundraising hasn’t been a big obstacle for Woodson, he learned that he had to rid himself of his safety net of being an emergency physician, and the importance of providing value to potential investors. In order to instill confidence in investors, as a first-time entrepreneur Woodson thought it was important to show that he was all in on Pulsara.
In the end, taking this leap of faith clearly paid off for Woodson and Pulsara. But it wasn’t out of pure luck, Woodson worked hard to build his business out of a dinner party idea.
Starting his career as an emergency physician, Woodson has always been passionate about the healthcare industry. He’s been able to fulfill his purpose in life by serving people every day, whether it be one-on-one as an emergency physician, or at scale now as the CEO of a healthtech company. For Woodson, getting up and going to work is enjoyable (no “Ugh, Monday”s), because it truly doesn’t feel like work to him.
Along his journey, Woodson has learned many lessons about what it takes to build a successful company, one of which is surrounding yourself with experts. “You’ve got to surround yourself with good people, don’t find an echo chamber, you need people with expertise. People that aren’t just like you are the ones you need to be around because they can bring different ideas and skillsets to the table.” Woodson also noted that scaling an idea into a successful business means giving up some responsibility and having to put a lot of trust in others. That’s why, as a first-timer, it’s important to “open up, build your network and learn quickly.”
Woodson is aware that disrupting the healthcare industry isn’t easy, but is committed to doing just that. He feels a strong obligation to get Pulsara into everybody’s hands by continuing to grow the business globally. There’s a reason Pulsara’s tagline is “it’s about people”: they’re on a mission to save lives.
James Woodson has a medical background as an Emergency Physician and Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine in both Louisiana and Texas. He later became an entrepreneur when he founded healthtech company Pulsara in 2013, based in Montana. Connect with Woodson on LinkedIn.