Chris Whitlow, founder and CEO of Edukate, began his entrepreneurial career as a youth. Nothing has changed for him as an adult as he continues innovating in the financial technology sector.
"I built my first software program in the third grade and made money off it," he said. "I built my second piece of commercial software at 21 and sold it to a fairly large insurance company. Edukate was a natural evolution of my career as I was continuing to challenge the status quo and look for ways to build technology to solve problems. I wanted to find the solution to what was important to employees in managing their financial wellbeing. While the 401k is a tool they can use, I found they were challenged with other ancillary problems that prevented them from being able to save for retirement."
Edukate is an online, workplace financial-wellness provider that delivers step-by-step guidance to employees to help them solve their money problems.
"We do four key things for employers," Whitlow explained. "The first is we use technology to engage employees with their financial wellness. Second, we go beyond content and education to guide employees through their personal financial challenges. Third, we work to connect employees to the existing benefits that their company offers. Fourth, we help companies define and redefine their corporate culture in working with their employees to relieve their financial stress."
Whitlow's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to make sure you are the right person for the job.
"As an entrepreneur, you need to really think about the problem you're trying to solve and ask yourself "why am I the one to solve this problem?" he said. "If you're willing to go all in and put your life on hold then you absolutely have to know for sure it's your problem to solve, which means you are equipped, in the position, and have the resources needed to solve that problem. If all that’s true and you approach it by taking calculated, goal-based steps toward that challenge then ultimately no matter how it turns out, you'll look back and find success in that you will have challenged yourself in a way that you will come out a lot better than you started."
Whitlow also advises getting involved in the entrepreneur ecosystem.
"We have an incredible ecosystem for becoming an entrepreneur in Central Florida," he said. "Edukate would have been at a huge disadvantage without that ecosystem and the fact that we have gotten involved, gotten out to network at meetups and met with the community to test assumptions. It is a huge piece of why we've been as successful as we are. I encourage everyone to continue to do that."