Like many others, William Choi, Co-Founder and Head of Markets & Partnerships at Posture AI, knows what it is like to suffer from backpain. “In my search for solutions, I met the co-founders of a portable sitting device called BackJoy that helps you find your natural spine position. I found it so useful that I became a seed investor and one of its early founding members,” he recalls. He brought the US product to South Korea where it became the market leader in Asia and second in the world in global sales, being recognised as one of the most innovative products in Korea.
Artificial intelligence-enabled smart posture device
In spite of the success, Mr Choi had yet another idea early on. “I realised that if we added sensors to our posture-correcting devices and turned them into smart products that were backed by doctors, they would be even more useful.” He later co-founded Posture AI, a data analytics and management platform connected to wearables aimed at preventing backpain.
Today, the company has developed a posture science platform based on artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning analytics, with the option to be connected to wearable smart posture devices. One of its in-app subscriptions offers a unique ergonomic shirt with attached sensors that monitors users’ posture throughout the day, increasing targeted deep learning and analysis on their posture evolution throughout their lifetime. All data is uploaded to the company’s cloud platform where users can consult their behaviour and receive suggestions of customised exercises and programmes adapted to their specific postural footprint and lifestyle. Companies using the platform on a corporate level are able to analyse the data related to their employees or patients and reward them for good habits. “Our AI platform is also able to recommend other wearables and solutions based on user data. This is the real added value of Posture AI,” Mr Choi points out.
Fit 4 Start: learning about the European market
In 2022, Mr Choi was contacted by the Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office in Seoul that had discovered the innovative company and suggested exploring the accelerator programme Fit 4 Start as a tool to reach the European market. “I already knew that Luxembourg is an AAA-rated country renowned for its stability and good governance. Its strategic location and neutral image would give us easy access to France, Germany, the United Kingdom and other European nations. When doing some research, I also saw that Luxembourg has a strong focus on innovation. I wanted to be plugged into an innovative ecosystem where the government supports start-ups in scaling their business within Europe.”
I wanted to be plugged into an innovative ecosystem where the government supports start-ups in scaling their business within Europe.
In October 2022, he travelled to Luxembourg to pitch his smart posture device and company at the Fit 4 Start selection day. He was awarded with a place in the 6-month coaching programme that also provides equity-free grants to its participants. “We joined Fit 4 Start to develop partnerships and scalability in terms of testing and validating the product, as well as to get mentorship. My co-founders and I know what we don’t know, and we did not know the European market. The programme was a great help.”
Mr Choi also underlines the usefulness of the grant. “It is often hard for small foreign companies to establish their business in Europe. The grant was a great steppingstone towards establishing ourselves in Europe, and compensates well for the effort made.”
“One of our best decisions ever”
The Fit 4 Start participation has also paid off in terms of business partnerships. Posture AI is already working with two major Luxembourg companies: the national POST corporation and insurance company Foyer. “Coming here frankly exceeded my expectations – the level of business activity has moved very quickly. I find European companies very open to innovation, and we have a strong client base for our platform here,” Mr Choi comments.
While the company’s Korean operations will continue to develop internet of things and advanced hardware capabilities, the focus in Luxembourg will be on big data, artificial intelligence and advancing the business around the platform. Posture AI will soon be recruiting data scientists, engineers and a sales team in Luxembourg, while raising its first million euros here. “We are also leveraging funds in Korea, so it is obvious that there is strong interest on both sides.”
Coming here frankly exceeded my expectations – the level of business activity has moved very quickly.
During the Fit 4 Start programme, Mr Choi ended up spending around 60% of his time in Europe – far more than he had expected – to manage the fast ramping up of the business activity. He is now working to permanently base himself in Luxembourg. “We have a lot going on in Korea too, so I will continue to divide my time between the two countries,” he says.
He clearly enjoys his new home. “People in Luxembourg are nice, smart and hospitable, and it is great to be around very sincere and reasonable people. Health and data are important in Luxembourg, and the country is not only talking about it but actually investing to make things happen. Right now, a healthtech valley is being built in Esch-sur-Alzette in the south. What more can you ask for? Coming here was one of our best decisions ever.”
Photo credits: Posture AI