COM Alumnus and Entrepreneur Chris Hulls Talks About Life360
In the basement of a UC-Berkeley building where graduates set up shop as new entrepreneurs, Chris Hulls, 25, is herding a team of software engineers toward the first official product launch for his award-winning startup, Life360.
The former College of Marin student, who served as ASCOM president and later graduated in 2004 from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, hopes to see his cell phone-based safety alert products online by early summer. Not that he expects smooth sailing. For Hulls, who serves as chief executive officer for the company he co-founded almost four years ago, persistence is a way of life.
“Chris does not take no for an answer,” says Robert Kennedy, a CPA and College of Marin economics professor. Kennedy met Hulls six years ago and remembers him sitting near the back of his economics class. Kennedy has championed his budding entrepreneurial career ever since. He doesn’t get discouraged. He’s tireless.”
Life360 was birthed from witnessing the tribulations of Hurricane Katrina victims who lost contact with loved ones as well as access to vital information that would have facilitated disaster recovery. Hulls saw a clear need for more efficient disaster recovery tools.
“I saw the government pushing stupid plans and projects on people and useless things being marketed,” Hulls says. While at UC Berkeley, he began working on a business plan for new mobile safety alert products.
What has evolved is a subscription-based consumer product that allows individuals and families to communicate instantly and gain easy access to necessary documents in times of an emergency. The technology could eventually be a useful tool in disaster planning for schools, companies, or governments. Last year, Life360 was selected as a first place winner in the Google Android Developer Challenge, a prestigious competition that attracted 1,788 entries. Life360 was one of the top 10 companies to be awarded a $275,000 prize.
“I’m obviously very excited,” Hulls says. “It was a big break, a validation for everything we were doing.”
Hulls grew up in Pt. Reyes and graduated from Tomales High a year early while enrolled in classes at COM. He says high school achievement was not a top priority and quickly joined the U.S. Air Force in 2000. He served as a loadmaster on C-130 planes, conducting airdrops and delivering cargo in Pakistan and Afghanistan. There, he says, he developed discipline and a better ability to follow-through on ideas. When he returned to COM in 2003, his goals were clearer.
“I knew I wanted to get back to school right away,” Hulls said. “I think I always was a driven person, it was just hard for me to finish things, to put in the time. In the military, there’s no point in wondering if you’re going to finish. You’re going to finish.”
Please note: In 2009, Life360 successfully launched its app on the Android and iPhone platforms. For more information about Life360 go to www.life360.com