Team Spotlight: Co-Founder and CTO Francis Li
After a year of hiding away in our houses and building a company over Zoom, we would like to introduce ourselves!
Meet Francis, co-founder & CTO of Peak Response. He is a software engineer and architect as well as an interaction designer with a passion for combining his skills to bring innovative new products and services to market.
What is your role at Peak Response?
As the CTO of Peak Response, my primary responsibility right now is to execute on the engineering of our products, to take them from concepts on the page or screen to reality as the apps and services that we bring to market. That involves not just staying intimately aware of the capabilities and long-term potential of the modern computer technologies we use that inform their design and features, but also being very pragmatic about what can be reliably and effectively used out in the field today by our first responder customers and users.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The exciting part about being in a small, early stage startup is being able to participate in a broad range of activities in the company. First, my co-founder Britt and I get to dream about the possibilities and the vision for what we want to accomplish with this company. Together, we bounce ideas off each other and share our knowledge and expertise with each other so that we can build off of it and execute in the domains we are responsible for. For me, that is the technical execution of building our products and, as an engineer, there is nothing more satisfying than being hands-on in making our ideas become reality. I’ve never stopped writing code myself and learning new technologies and skills. At the same time, as someone who has also studied interaction design, it’s important and valuable to me to observe and participate in the user-centered design and research process being executed by Britt.
Tell us a bit about your background before Peak Response.
As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve been doing the same work as I do now- building new products and services and taking them to market- at prior startups and as an independent consultant across a broad range of industries, including entertainment, consumer services, marketing, and healthcare. Previously, I was co-founder and CTO at DohJe and AudioPress, and VP of UX Engineering at Wrap Media. I studied at U.C. Berkeley and earned BA and MS degrees in Computer Science and afterwards earned a Master of Interaction Design degree from the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.
What excites you about working on tools for the EMS community?
I’m very much inspired by our mission to help improve public safety and the positive response we’ve had so far with our partners and advisors in the EMS community. I also appreciate being able to see the user-centered design principles and practices that I learned about in school actually be realized in our work- they often get shortchanged in the development process in other industries where time to market has the first priority. Here, where human lives are at stake, there can be no excuses to skip the research, testing, and validation needed to make sure our tools perform as needed to justify their cost and implementation.
Where do you hope to see Peak Response in a year?
A year from now, I expect that we will have completed a significant amount of rigorous testing of our tools both in training simulations and out in the field with our initial EMS partners. If our hypotheses about the efficacy and performance of our tools holds true, we will have a strong case to bring to the larger EMS community and to prove our place alongside other companies in the industry.
What do you do when you’re not working on Peak Response?
Peak Response is just one aspect of my larger commitment to civic engagement and giving back to the communities we live in through my work with technology. I am a volunteer with the Code for San Francisco brigade, collaborating with my peers in the industry to help research and build solutions for community needs in the city. I also mentor young adults interested in careers in the tech industry as a board member of the non-profit Dev/Mission and have been developing a curriculum and program for introducing computer science to elementary school children with my colleague at Passion for Coding. I am a proponent of STEAM education, which includes the Arts in addition to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and try to find opportunities to dabble in street photography as well as creative coding and electronic art.