James Sims has worked with inventors and entrepreneurs his entire career, and today, his company, Xela, a play on his children’s names, is the culmination of everything he’s ever done to benefit entrepreneurs, helping them strike out and build their own businesses for future success. “This is the greatest explosion of entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, startups, and gig workers in the country’s history. Now, they need support to thrive,” says James. And he knows what it takes to get them there.
A business leader and entrepreneur who’s spent 30 years leading, founding, and working with startups, James has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to leveraging technology to take an idea to success. After playing a major role bringing a company from 100 employees to 5,000 with a $3 billion market cap right out of college, James dedicated his career to making businesses succeed by looking towards the future of what “business” looks like. He started his first company, GenXL in the early 2000s. On the heels of that success, he developed processes and procedures for productively working out of the office in the early 2000s, when not popular and underutilized. Eight years later, he started one of the first telehealth companies, Connections365, far ahead of the trend.
While his remarkable entrepreneurial journey is marked by successes, James knows well the inherent risks of failure that startups carry, and spent eight years developing a company and a platform to help them avoid pitfalls, harness their innovations, and flourish. In 2020, Xela was born, and with the final polish in place, in August 2002, James launched the Xela Business Platform specifically designed for consultants to build and extend their business online, giving them everything a startup needs to launch and grow—all in a single platform.
The Xela Business Platform integrates all the key technologies that businesses need to succeed into a single, easy-to-use platform—video, calendar, client payment, coworker communications, and much more. It integrates directly and seamlessly into the client’s website, and its solutions are all fixed-time and fixed-cost for consistent delivery. Services include a custom website, one-on-one support, and the Xela Business Platform that uses insight from leading business consultants to get online businesses up and running in record time, all for one low monthly fee. Since launching, Xela is serving an ever-growing number of clients, including gig workers looking to set up their own businesses, and ushering them into a brighter future.
We met with James to learn more about what inspired Xela, how it’s changing the way business is done, and what drives him.
What compelled you to start a company dedicated to serving specifically consultants, small businesses, startups, entrepreneurs, and gig workers?
Over the past couple of years, primarily because of COVID lockdowns, there has been significant change in the priorities and logistics of the standard brick-and-mortar workforce. Many individuals with specific skill sets have realized there are other options to get compensated for their expertise without having to go into the office. They need a way to create their own business that’s cost effective, differentiated, and able to get to market quickly. I wanted to use my experience and expertise to help them succeed. It’s that simple.
Did your own obstacles or “headaches” as an entrepreneur serve to inform Xela’s service model to eliminate these for others and support their success?
Absolutely. The true value of Xela is providing four key components to maximize our clients’ success: People, Platform, Process and Pricing. The People component is our ability to bring the right people with extensive startup experience to our clients’ businesses to stop those “headaches” from happening and guide new business owners away from common mistakes.
Tell us about some of the services that you provide.
Xela provides a comprehensive process to start online businesses for entrepreneurs that has been developed over 30 years. They include business ideation, market research, branding, web development, finances, advertising, and one-on-one and tech support. All services are provided with a fixed-fee, and pricing options are available for all to start their own business without significant upfront cost and risk.
What is one piece of advice that you’d give to aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs?
If you decide to start a new business, make sure it’s something you really love. It will take more time, effort, and commitment than expected and having a sincere interest will get you through the times you want to throw in the towel or when you think you were crazy to do this in the first place.
What do you enjoy most about your work, James?
Freedom. I’ve been fortunate to be able to work on interesting and amazing projects out of an office for over 15 years. Being able to create businesses for individuals to live a better, more satisfying personal and business life is my goal for Xela and it’s extremely motivating.
Founder & CEO— Xela