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Alumni Entrepreneur Spotlight:
For the past few years, Nicholas Howell (class of 2004) and fellow alum Peter Murray (class of 2005) have been building a financial technology, LifeCounts (www.lifecounts.com), which launched for public use in January 2013. LifeCounts is a standalone, online platform that allows users to optimize their financial data for greater clarity and control. A simple, one-time setup enables users to securely view all of their financial accounts in one place even if the accounts are from different financial institutions. The platform reinforces sound financial decision making by providing alerts, notifications and budgeting advice that help users make meaningful adjustments to their finances.
Nicholas and Peter met while assigned as project partners for an undergraduate business course at Santa Clara University. One evening while studying for an exam, they debated and discussed company building, leadership and the critical role of consciously driven, for-profit organizations in the business community. A near decade later, they find themselves continuing such conversations and working to turn those theories into reality.
After graduation, Nicholas spent several years in Silicon Valley in financial advisory roles to technology companies working on private financing, mergers and acquisitions and corporate strategy. He left banking to develop his engineering skills, both in studies at Columbia University and participation in live enterprise environments. Peter was commissioned as an infantry officer in the Army following his graduation and spent four years honing leadership and operational skills during his service.
The two reconnected following Peter's return from a 14-month deployment to Iraq, and their reconnection coincided with the aftereffects of the financial crisis, the wake of which revealed a deep need affecting nearly every segment of society. "LifeCounts was designed to solve a real problem facing nearly every consumer by helping them better understand their personal finances," said Peter. Though technology has made accessing account balances virtually effortless, challenges such as paying bills on time, reducing debt and saving for the future remain present burdens for many households. "Though LifeCounts is not the first product of its kind, many people are still searching for greater financial transparency, and an intuitive, secure and private platform can help them achieve their financial goals," said Nicholas.
Both Nicholas and Peter credit SCU with reinforcing their approach to conscious-focused business building. At a time when consumer-direct software companies are increasingly inclined to deliver their products for free and then sell, rent or share aggregated data and advertising placement to marketers and third parties, the LifeCounts team is working to establish a new and trusted level of responsible data management and consumer advocacy. LifeCounts distinguishes itself by offering paid subscriptions that provide users with a secure and private experience without any data distribution or any advertisements. All data and computing operations are done in-house, and because of the sensitive nature of the information stored, the entire LifeCounts experience is managed and stored on company-owned and operated servers and is protected by overlapping layers of bank-level security.
Actively engaged in their next stage of fundraising, the two have been fortunate to surround themselves with a cadre of like-minded investors and team members that are committed to developing technologies that enhance quality of life.