She realized systems in place for drug and alcohol recovery were failing those who needed them.
So a recovering addict, Daniela Luzi Tudor, decided to change the system by co-founding a recovery app, WEconnect.
Daniela is exquisite.
I met her a decade ago swimming in the glory of our mid 20s. Soaking up house music, neon lights and late nights. I, a club photographer, she, a promoter. Even then she had such a presence with her striking features and endless, curvy smile. So at ease, so fearless.
Now... She's been through hell and back. And even though she heads a million + dollar funded company she's still seductive, captivating and a commanding presence with a gentle undertone. In a way, parental like. Someone who's lived with lots to tell. Parallel features to her company WEconnect Health, which tackles an addict's recovery path. It's personal and no small, short term task.
I photographed Daniela as the dark, composed beauty she is. Deeply emotional and therefore a powerfully attuned human being. Her company story is one in the same of her very own. Here are her own words describing how she first hand experienced a broken system and how she's using technology to change it.
Daniela let's talk about WEconnect Health before diving into your personal story. I wanted to feature you and your company because you're the exact person who fits the Finding Founders motivation. You're giving back to the world by improving a broken system. But first we need to know exactly what was broken. And how you're fixing it.
Not enough people are getting the proper treatment that they need: for every 100 persons that needs treatment for addiction only 10 get into inpatient treatment and only 2 of those stay sober for a year. Moreover, the length of treatment covered isn't long enough and at the end the person receive a piece of paper called a care plan and are sent on their way. There is no accountability and addiction is treated like an acute diseases versus a long term chronic condition that requires daily treatment in the form of: support meetings, therapy, MAT - depending on what works for the individual.
With the WEconnect mobile app, the individual is connected in real time to their support network and they are kept accountable to their care plan via rewards, positive messaging and location verification. We have a patent pending relapse risks core algorithm that generates a relapse risk based on behavior on the app, and notifies the support network - such as a counselor - within the enterprise data dashboard.
Do you have professionals working for the app that, say, a client could contact should they feel a relapse coming on, questions, or just simple therapy in a way like a counselor?
We partner with professionals and facilities who are that connection to the patient on our app. We are experts at building engaging technology solutions in this space, and partner with the best on the clinical side. We also provide facilities with curriculums developed by our PHds' to help the counselors and therapists educate the patients on WEconnect. We also provide swag for the patients and welcome to them to our community very early on.
What would you consider your official start date of the idea? When you quit your other jobs or job to focus on this?
I quit my job November of 2015: we were on the brink of getting our seed round filled, and the investor needed to know I had skin in the game. I was also feeling distracted at work thinking about it all the time and felt like I wasn't serving my employer anymore- it felt dishonest and I needed to take the leap, and it was a big leap. At the time I didn't have enough to make next month's rent and I really depended on the stipend that the funding was going to provide, but I knew it was then or never.
Do you feel more personally connected to the business because of the reason you started it?
How did this work affect your personal life? I get asked all the time how long founders or co-founders work weeks are.
Do you feel like you "shut off" from work or does work and personal tend to flow together?
DJing?!! It's amazing you still have time to pursue great passions while running a new company. It does reflect the person you quoted Richard Branson a tad. Do you think making time for these other passions adds to your work on the company? Directly or indirectly?
Do you feel supported by your tech community in Seattle? What other business communities are you apart of around the nation or the world?
Last questions and I realize this is tough. If you could go back to that 20's something and change it all, would you?
I would not change what happened to me. I would like to change the impact my struggle had on others. But as far as my own experience, and what it has led to: the ability to help others, the new people this experience has brought into my life, and most importantly a person that has come back into my life as a result is priceless.
Would you sell anytime soon and to who? Would you be afraid that someone wouldn't take care of this business like you would?
I want to grow the company to have opportunities to create the biggest impact and for us to have choices. I am not tied to an outcome where it is: IPO, selling or growing it incrementally. What is important to me is that as a group we decide what is best and choose the path that will allow the most family systems to heal from addiction and behavioral health conditions.
"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway.
Find something broken and fix it. The very heart of evolution. This responsibility falls in the hands innovators and entrepreneurs. Daniela, is both.
written and photographed by: Summer Wilson
November 20, 2018
Summer Wilson - Creative Director and Photographer of Battle Cry