Jonathan Frankel is not your average startup founder. He doesn’t live in Silicon Valley, or even Silicon Alley. He hasn’t worked in the technology industry before.
Oh, and he’s an ordained rabbi.
Frankel never planned on starting his own company, let alone develop a new device, but he just sort of stumbled into it. After becoming a rabbi, Frankel went to Harvard Law and then worked at Boston Consulting Group and flew around the country working with different clients.
At the time he was living in the suburbs of Philadelphia with his wife and three sons in a three-story house.
“I have three little boys, and I was trying to keep track of them,” Frankel told Business Insider.
He’d hear screaming coming from somewhere and run around the house trying to figure out what was wrong. Or if it was time for dinner, he’d have to scream at the top of his lungs for them to come downstairs.
Frankel decided that it would make his life infinitely easier if he could install an intercom in the house so that he could communicate with his family wherever they were. But when he started googling, he was astonished by the price range.
The traditional intercom systems his parents had used 20 years ago when he was a kid were going for $US3,000. And it would require them to wire the whole house and break through walls. It seemed pretty ridiculous.
So he thought to himself, this is the 21st century, there must be some sort of wireless solution at a cheaper price point. But he couldn’t find anything.
After dozens of hours of futile searching, Frankel decided to go ahead and create a wireless intercom himself.
A year and a half later, he’s launching Nucleus, a WiFi home intercom that makes it easy to communicate with other people in your house (and it’s less expensive, too).
With Nucleus, parents can buy tablet-like devices to hang on the walls around their house. Each device can record video and audio and share the information with the other devices in the house.
“The ability to just tap and see takes out a lot of the running up and down,” Frankel said. “It’s a lot more calm way to communicate.”
You can preorder as many devices as you want at $US150 per Nucleus, and Frankel is hoping to ship by the second quarter of 2015.
While Frankel studied computer science undergrad, he didn’t really have too much technical background, so he brought along Isaac Levy to be Nucleus’ CTO. Levy came with tons of background in video technology and put together the working prototype in about a month.
And while Levy is working on all the coding, Frankel is bringing his own flair to the company.
“Talmud and computers and law, they’re all very demanding and logical professions,” he said. “When we were designing this, working with designers, I told them ‘I don’t even have the vocabulary to discuss design.’ You want to give me a logical puzzle, I’ll solve a logical puzzle. I’m not a designer. But I think all those three different careers, they seem very disparate, but they’re kind of very connected in terms of the hard logic required.”