Pierson is the CEO of a stealth startup, Pierson Labs.
She is also, quite possibly, the most inspiring tech founder in the Valley today. And that’s saying something.
Business Insider recently met with her and her cofounder Nelson González at the startup’s Palo Alto headquarters.
Pierson is lucky to be alive. She’s also lucky to be walking, talking and thinking, much less be leading her second startup, developing big-data education software.
In 1984, when she was 22 years old, she went out jogging with her dog and was hit by a drunk driver. The car crushed her face, throat, heart lungs and legs. At the hospital, she fell into an 18-month coma. And then she had a heart attack.
Instead of killing her, the heart attack woke her up. She came to weighing 64 pounds, blind and unable to walk, talk, eat.
Doctors rebuilt her through more than 50 surgeries: a plastic nose, a new eye, lots of titanium used as bones and some bones taken from cadavers, too.
“Eventually, I started to look human,” she says in her stirring 2011 Ted Talk about the ordeal.
Today, she looks more than human. She looks like the attractive, fit, ex-Marine that she is. But it was a long road to recovery involving having to relearn everything.
In the marines, Pierson learned to code. Her experience lead to an interest in neuroscience so during her military service she wrote algorithms to diagnose brain injuries from the battlefield.
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