As we continue our conversations with this year’s 2009 fbFund winners, we turn from online dating with Frintro to online safety and security solutions with Life360. Life360 is an online platform that allows families to stay in better communication with each other, especially in the event of an emergency, through a collection of apps and widgets. Currently, popular widgets include Emergency Messenger, LifeID, and Lost & Found, with new widgets coming soon, including Collision Detector, Panic, and Curfew 2.0. We recently spoke with Chris Hulls, co-founder and CEO of Life360, about his company’s vision.
Inside Facebook: Chris, what is Life360 in a nutshell?
Chris Hulls: At Life360, we’re building the equivalent of OnStar, but for a family’s every day life. We manage safety and emergency preparedness. There are different products out there, ranging from lost-item to child-tracking services, but they are primarily offered as point services. We make these tools manageable on an iGoogle-style platform that reuses family information (so that users don’t have to register every time they add a service) and can add our safety and security widgets in a couple clicks. We’re building our own set of widgets in-house. There’s a long-term opportunity here to build applications around the family.
What motivated you to innovate in the family safety and security space, and what have been key milestones since then?
I was in the military/air force when I was 17 and liked it until 9/11 changed things for me. I went back to school to study business at Berkeley and came up with idea during Hurricane Katrina. I finished school, went into banking, and then decided to do my own thing after having a cancer scare. When you’re faced with mortality, it changes your outlook on life.
The idea behind Life360 quickly grew much bigger when we won Google’s Android contest and received our first seed funding. If you look at the industry, a lot of the companies acquire users by giving them the impression that if they don’t sign up something terrible will happen. As a site, we’re careful to encourage people to take risks and live life fully, but in responsible ways. This may not work in our interests financially, but it’s a way of life we strongly believe in.
How is Life360’s platform integrating with Facebook?
Facebook gives us better user data and an expanded messaging system. There’s potential to take the Facebook stream and process it in a number of ways. We could turn status updates into a messaging system using 411 or 911 as codes. Our system could then pick up on these status updates and email, call, or text the user’s list of contacts, which are stored in our system. Or, we could use the Facebook stream to create a family feed tool that brings status updates to Life360 without friending mom – via a widget or email digest. Most companies addressing what-if situations don’t have high user retention. We’re trying to change that because there’s a huge potential to make our service applicable for daily life, and Facebook can give us the presence to do that.
Who’s on your team?
I work with my co-founder Dilpreet Singh, who is Life360’s CTO. His background is in Computer Science, and he got his MBA from Berkeley. He’s been an engineer for five to six years now and used to serve as Director of Products at a CRM company. Together, we work with a dedicated group of developers.
What are your plans to stay financially sustainable?
We plan to operate on a subscription-based service and charge per family.
Who’s your target demographic?
Right now, moms with young kids. But there’s a huge demand for services with the aging baby boomers.
What’s Life360’s biggest challenge going forward?
Our biggest competitor is to do nothing. People don’t think of using the web/tech to manage everything to do with what keeps them up at night, the what-ifs. The biggest challenge by far is building awareness. That said, point-of-sale safety and security companies are competitors for now, but we hope to partner with them in the future.