Jonathon Mahoney ’17, Co-Founder, Eachday Inc.

Jonathon is co-founder at Eachday, a healthtech startup aimed at assessing and managing symptoms of ADHD.

Headshot of Jonathon Mahoney '17

What did you carry from your Berkeley experience to your work in innovation/entrepreneurship?

I cherish every moment I had at Berkeley as a student athlete. As a member of the Men’s rowing team, I was part of something far bigger than myself, and no amount of personal accolades would come close to accomplishments of team - being part of the only collegiate sports team in history to win three gold medals at the Olympics gave me some large shoes to fill. From the moment you set foot on campus to the end of the year, you row twice a day, for two-hour sessions. Each of these sessions leaves you aching in pain, tired, and wondering why you do it. But standing on a medal dock at the end of year victorious with your teammates - only for a day - reminds you why you fought against the struggle. Therefore, during my time in the team, the classroom, the campus, and my dorm, I learned how to put the team above myself. My goals were the team goals, and I would wake every day excited to support my teammates. Just as in business, great ideas are born with and then executed by similarly-driven individuals who align and invigorate themselves around a goal. Cal taught me that in order to succeed in entrepreneurship, you better be a team player!

What programs/activities/etc. would you suggest that Cal students take advantage of to prepare for their career in innovation?

Take History courses. Yes, history courses! I was a History major at Cal and was involved in various History programs and extracurriculars. History teaches us a variety of valuable, often overlooked, soft EQ skills that you need to learn to launch your business or product. As an innovator or entrepreneur, you need an understanding of causal relationships, effective written/oral communication, analytical skills, and pattern/trend recognition. These skillsets can make the difference in assessing the right opportunity, the right market fit, the right customer profile, and if it’s the right time to hop into a venture. Innovation is based around identifying a problem and devising a solution in a rapidly growing and diversifying world. To understand your diverse market, you must understand your users and what drives them. Connect with them on a personal level by understanding something unique about their background, culture, practices, religion etc. - all of which you can learn in History.

What advice would you offer students just beginning their careers in the startup world, either as founders or as early team members?

Build, measure, learn. Ideation is a critical part of designing/building a product or service. It must be methodical. However, if you’re a startup, you’re probably the first to go about solving a problem the way that you are. Therefore, there will be many unknowns you can’t account for. So sometimes you have just put a stake in the ground and MOVE FORWARD. A mistake can always teach you how to make a new route, but inaction can truly kill your vision. It’s a little unconventional in the startup world, but when you plant a stake in the ground, you’re providing yourself a valuable opportunity to learn. Your customers will guide you in the right direction, provided you LISTEN to them.

Second, trust your delegation skills. Starting small means holding multiple responsibilities across different business functions. You could be the CTO, HR, and accounting expert on the team. You have to know when something is mission critical, and then you have to be comfortable delegating important but less urgent responsibilities to others you trust.

What was it like to drastically pivot your startup from its original focus?

Remaining flexible and always learning is key. When our team first came together, we wanted to build a platform that connected psychiatrists to patients and improve the finding and matching process. We built multiple iterations of the minimum viable product and constantly received negative feedback: too broad, no call to action, no legitimacy, no simple onboarding process, etc. Eachday did not finally come into existence until our team came around to focus on one specific mental health issue. We listened to our users who said they wanted a product that was for a specific need, and if our product was not going to add immediate value, they wanted to look elsewhere for help. So we picked a problem that personally impacted our team members and realized if we can fix our problems, we can help others. The pivot was scary but much needed, and we basically started from scratch after putting a year’s worth of sweat equity into an entirely new venture.

Do you think it is better for first-time entrepreneurs to join a startup, or to start their own company? How do you evaluate your employment opportunities?

I recommend first-time entrepreneurs join a start-up in an operations role. Theoretically, each start-up should have its own intellectual property or way of doing business. Each company is looking to disrupt a field or industry. Therefore, if you have a problem and a unique solution, no amount of practice elsewhere will help with the specificity of your venture. But all businesses need sound operations to survive. Learn how the Go-to-Market team, Marketing Team, Research Team, etc., all functionally work together in a business. I always remember during one of my first meetings with venture capitalists, I was told that a C+ idea with an A+ execution team is more investment-worthy than an A+ idea with a C+ execution team. In order to scale your idea and conquer that total addressable market, you need to learn how to build strong processes across your business that allow you to optimize your operations and grow.

As an entrepreneur, you’re told to push through barriers and face down rejection. How do you know when it’s time to pivot, or to sunset a project you’re working on?

First, listen to your users. You’re bringing a product/service to market to help customers ease a specific pain; they will guide your decision-making process. It’s important to act and move on hard facts and hypotheses, but you have to be mentally and emotionally prepared to constantly show your work to your target audience - and receive their honest feedback. If you hear from users that the specific pain you’re trying to address persists, it might make sense to pivot your approach. Second, you sunset a project or venture when the commercial viability runs out. If your target audience can move beyond the pain that you’re trying to address, or deal with it, then the venture might not be viable.

Has Berkeley been helpful to you in your entrepreneurial endeavors? If so, what have you valued most about your interactions with Cal or the resources it provides?

Based on the relationships I built at Berkeley, I was able to become part of a founding team! Berkeley helped a young, curious student steeped in environmental clean-up knowledge transition into the technology sector based on the friendships it helped me foster with my classmates and teammates. An intangible - but equally important - resource was the structure that the culture of the school provided. Wake at 6:15 AM, row, breakfast, class, tutor, second workout, dinner, study and enjoy time with friends, was a constant at Cal for me. It taught me that for any endeavor to succeed (from entrepreneurship to making a racing boat on the crew team), 10,000 hours of training for 1 hour of success was REQUIRED to make it.

What’s your (or your company’s) biggest challenge or hurdle at your current stage?

Eachday logo

For Eachday it’s solving the problem of “Far Transfer,” which is the ability to learn a skill set in one domain and then recall it later, and manipulating those strategies to help you in a completely different sector. This ability utilizes the Executive Function construct of the brain, which is our higher order cognitive process that allows us to accomplish goal-oriented tasks. All previous technology platforms have failed to generate Far Transfer in a digital platform or show significant medical efficacy behind it. At Eachday we are testing an equation that will hopefully overcome this issue and allow us to truly help individuals build this intelligence. Through various features built in the app, we create an environment that fosters proper identification, practice, and recall of these strategies.

What resource/s would be most valuable to you to help you attain your next milestone?

The next two most valuable resources for Eachday are 1) designing and then implementing a clinical trial for our app, and 2) onboarding PhD neuroscientists to help us flesh out our ability to build lasting habits and using Executive Functioning training to address the cause of ADHD. Each resource requires time and multiple attempts at finding the right pieces that fill our team. The clinical study needs the right diverse population, a control group, and an institutional review board to then review our clinical findings before going for FDA submission to be a “digital therapeutic.” For the PhD neuroscientists, it’s about finding the right group of people who view strategy training as the best possible route to treat the symptoms of ADHD.

Lastly: You’ve chosen to make the Berkeley Founders’ Pledge. What inspired you to do that?

Cal will always have a special place in my heart, and the fact that my time there has inspired me in more ways than I have room to explain here is precisely why I felt obligated to make the Pledge. Yes, it is a world class institution that has lent its credibility to my personal pursuits. Yes, it is a campus that I believe is a driving force behind cutting edge technologies that make humanity better off. But for me, it’s the mentality of every person I have interacted with on campus - the undeniable desire to be great, not just for themselves but for others. People at Cal are attached to “missions,” not projects. We choose to tackle the hard problems because at the end of the day what matters to us is the reputation we leave behind - not just the numbers and highlights in various lines of work. Whether it’s the free speech movement, development of CRISPR, or the birth of the biotech industry, Cal leads the way in building a better world for all, and for this reason I see myself as part of a bigger team and mission of advancing and improving how people can live their lives.

For anyone considering making the Founders’ Pledge, think of those before you who worked hard to build this institution into what it is. Consider investing in yourself: Give to a place that will have a lasting impact in your life moving forward. GO BEARS!

[To contact Jonathon directly, you may reach him at ]

Interested in joining Jonathon in his commitment to Cal? Make the Berkeley Founders Pledge, like he did, and have an impact from Day One of your latest venture.