Whurley: An Entrepreneur Thinking Outside the Box

August 10, 2016

3:30 pm

One commonality among top entrepreneurs is their ability to innovate across multiple markets. They can prospect the opportunities in nearly any industry and find a way to commercialize them. And that’s exactly what Whurley has done in the past few years alone.

Whurley – born William Hurley – has made headlines after he sold his company Honest Dollar to Goldman Sachs, an experience that he believes worked out well for everyone involved. The Austin-based startup helps employers set up and manage retirement plans for their employees, innovating the way that retirement plans are fashioned for millions of workers across the nation. Its growth prospects are bright given Honest Dollar’s core market is the sharing economy. Among other marquee names, Honest Dollar counts ride-sharing service Lyft among its clients.

Turning Goldman Sach’s Sales Pitch on its Head

Whurley described the union with Goldman Sachs as an ideal match up. Using Goldman Sach’s information and technology, Honest Dollar will be able to help the greatest number of people possible, which Whurley told me is up to 54 million Americans who lack access to an adequate retirement savings plan.

In our interview, Whurley told me that he came into contact with a friend of a friend who worked at Goldman Sachs who was trying to become his money manager. During their meeting, Whurley spent more time pitching Honest Dollar than discussing his own finances.

Humanitarian Efforts

It’s important to keep in mind that entrepreneurs are also humanitarians looking to help the greater good. One experience Whurley talked to me about was President Obama’s visit to Austin. Along with other entrepreneurs and musician will.i.am, Whurley arranged a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at South By Southwest at his own home, which the President attended.  

The goal was to get the President to speak with tech leaders to discuss national, state and local issues. President Obama accepted, and Whurley had the honor of hosting the President at South By Southwest Interactive. 

Works of Science Fiction

Whurley explained that he always has one eye on the future. He’s so focused on the future that he has created a skateboard that reads people’s minds, straight out of a science fiction movie.

The skateboard is motor powered and connects to a neural helmet created by Whurley. While wearing the helmet, the rider can control the skateboard with his mind. For example, the rider would focus his thoughts on moving forward. With a lot of focus, the board will move forward. It’s that simple!

The mind-powered skateboard works by mapping the neural activity in the brain. By observing neural responses, Whurley can map what the brain does when the rider thinks about moving forward. When the helmet reads a signal that the mind is thinking about moving forward, the board responds accordingly.

The possibilities that stem from neural mapping are endless. The obvious uses are for entertainment – much like the mind-powered hover board. However, the importance of neural mapping can go a step further. By understanding the connections, how they work and the ability to harness them, we could eventually find solutions to blindness, hearing loss and other medical issues.

Whurley’s inventiveness provides that spark for aspiring entrepreneurs to think outside the box. He has succeeded in multiple endeavors and he is determined to make technology that will work for and help people. And it just happens to be exciting.  

Photo: Flickr / Ed Schipul

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Jordan French is founding CMO of BeeHex Inc. 3D printing, President of O'Dwyer-ranked Notability Partners and cofounder of "Airbnb Police" start up BNB Shield. Jordan French is a technology commentator, biomedical engineer, intellectual-property attorney and business strategist for film and music stars. French works with Billboard-charted artist and multi-platinum producer, B. Howard, who wrote and produced songs for Vanessa Hudgens, Ginuwine, Dru Hill, Akon, Ne-Yo, Jason Derulo, Chris Brown and Wyclef Jean. French is on the leadership team at FOWNDERS, the social-impact start-up accelerator based in Newark, NJ. He is the Marketing & PR director of Scorpion Computer Services, Inc. and consults for executive producer Walter O’Brien, the inspiration behind the hit CBS television drama, Scorpion. As founding CEO and COO Jordan French built Status Labs into a Fast-50 and Inc.-500-ranked marketing firm and represented the people of the United States as an enforcement attorney at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission where he tracked down energy-market manipulators and enforced electric grid reliability rules.

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