May 21, 2014

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Article

Life360 App Aims to Become Leader in Family Network

By Rachel Madison

May 21, 2014

An app created to help families stay connected and safe is making strides to become the face of the family network around the world.

Chris Hulls, co-founder and CEO of Life360, a tech startup in San Francisco, said Life360 is all about family location, coordination and communication.

“We [created this app] because we have much broader aspirations,” Hulls said. “Mobile is changing everything. Soon everyone is going to have a phone, and this is a way to win the family network, just like Facebook won the social network and LinkedIn won the professional network.”

The app allows family members to do things like see a map of where the rest of their family members are, send group or one-on-one messages, and receive an alert when someone makes it to a frequently visited location, like home, work or school.

The company began in 2008 with a very slow build, Hulls said, but over the last six years, the app’s service has grown to be something in high demand.

“When we launched, things were very different,” he said. “[It took people a while to realize the app is] not something creepy. It makes life easier and it’s an extension of something families were already doing. There’s been a bit of a change in the culture, and now [keeping track of your family] is something that’s almost as normal as sending a text message.”

Life360 currently has 33 million families subscribed from around the world, with around 1 million new families being added each month. The company started out with just 10 employees, but now employs 50 people.

“We’re growing quickly,” Hulls said. “We have struck a nerve, because this is something families have done in a way for thousands of years, and we’re bringing it to the phone.”

Hulls said the idea for Life360 stems from the after effects of Hurricane Katrina.

“After Hurricane Katrina, families were not able to reconnect,” he said. “Smart phones were just coming out at that time, but the government was saying we needed to use technology to [change those issues].”

Hulls said Life360’s future plan is to be a hub for all types of family-related things, including home automation, like being able to lock doors or turn down the thermostat remotely. The company also has plans to create pendants for family members who don’t have smart phones to wear, so that they can be a part of their family’s network, or “circle.” The pendants will specifically be helpful for families with elderly members.

Life360 also recently inked a commercial deal with BMW so that BMW cars can have the Life360 technology installed.

“Think about meeting your husband at your kid’s soccer game,” Hulls said. “Normally you’d have to call, get the address, write it down and put it in your GPS system. Instead, you can push a button, say you need to drive to your husband and it’ll put it into the GPS for you. It takes all that friction away.”

Hulls doesn’t have a traditional background in tech like most tech company founders. He joined the Air Force right out of high school and spent some time in Afghanistan. After returning, he went to college and then had a brief stint working in investment banking for Goldman Sachs before starting Life360. He realizes his career path has been non-traditional, but he credits his unique journey to helping him find success with Life360.

The app is free and available on iPhone and Android platforms. The Windows platform is currently in beta testing and should be in production next month.

“We want to be the company that when you think of families and you think of a digital service, then you think of Life360,” he said. We’re all about creating a hub for the family and being known as the family network.”

Hulls will be one of the keynote speakers during Utah Business’ Rocky Mountain Leadership Conference on June 19, and he plans to give a candid overview of what it’s like to start a company—both the good and the bad.

“It’s not always fun—there are definitely some miserable times,” he said. “I want to give a candid overview of what it is like when it comes to both success and failure.”

For more information on the conference, visit https://register.growtix.com/e/rocky_mountain_leadership_conference. For more information on Life360, visit www.life360.com.

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