Chris Hulls is Co-Founder and CEO of Life360, a location and communication app for families for Android and iPhone.
Use app store optimization to rank for keywords in the app stores (that’s what we did to acquire our first customers; see “Traction” below).
I had a job at Goldman Sachs doing investment banking, but then had a health scare (tumor in my neck). It turned out fine but I had the cliche epiphany of wanting to do something more risky.
We started with a $300k grant from Google for winning the Android Developer contest, but that was after being denied by many VCs and angels. I had to enter the contest as a last resort. The toughest thing for me about funding was finding the right balance between cockiness and humility. I’m not a rah rah guy, which is abnormal for an entrepreneur, so I had to work hard to amp up my enthusiasm.
When we launched, no one was looking for a family location sharing app. But, we found out that tons of people were looking for an app that showed nearby crime. So, we built that feature into the app and all of a sudden we got hundreds of thousands of new users—it is how we got to critical mass.
Getting a good team together was very hard. I was a business guy without a track record, and that made it tough to have credibility with engineers. I eventually found good people by just showing up to every tech event I could find.
How do you stay productive when you get bogged down? Good question. Let me know when you find the answer. I did buy a fishing boat, which seems to be helping.
It has been a great feeling to see our user numbers skyrocket. We had almost no traction for 2 years, and then all of a sudden the market tipped and we took off. It was vindicating to see that the original vision was correct, and that we were just too early to market.
I would aspire to be like Elon Musk. I know a lot of people probably give that answer, but it is for a good reason. He is taking big risks and is actually doing something that is truly new. I’m very proud of Life360, but in the end we are just a cog in the overall mobile ecosystem. The ultimate success for me would be to create an entirely new industry.
This goes a bit beyond just my startup, but I wish I didn’t major in business in school. I could have picked up most of what I learned in college on the job. School should be a time for something more intellectual.
I once sent a reporter flowers and beef jerky. It didn’t go so well, but I generally think it is better to go over the top and embarrass yourself instead of sitting in the corner and not making any waves.