Most startups start by necessity. When a problem or pain becomes no longer bearable, an entrepreneurial individual gets an idea and does something about it, often resulting in a startup.
In this case, Jonathan, a father of three reckless young boys, was busy renovating his house with his wife. However, despite the couple’s efforts, the boys were creating even more work than the renovation itself. It was difficult to make any progress on the house; something needed to be done.
Jonathan began investigating intercom solutions to keep tabs on the boys. He asked a contractor for a quote and was appalled not only at the installation cost but also the outdated wired system he would be paying for.
He did further research on Wi-Fi based systems, only to find nothing of the sort existed.
Upon finding nothing in the intercom market suited for his needs, Jonathan decided to launch a startup that would build a modern, wireless-connected intercom system.
Jonathan knew this intercom system would need to be simple. His young boys were going to be using it, after all. He envisioned an interface where his kids could use a customized, wall-mounted Android tablet connected to the house’s network to connect to other tablets in the network.
Important difference between a phone call and an intercom system: an intercom conversation begins immediately upon the first person initiating; in other words, the second person does not have to “accept” the incoming call or video, like a phone call.
Now, Jonathan is a pretty smart guy. He has a computer science degree, a JD from Harvard Law School, and even a rabbinic ordination. But developing the advanced hardware and software required for this project was beyond his skillset.
He embarked on a finding the quality talent to execute his idea. He said:
“My first two attempts at hiring high-quality outsourced help were expensive lessons in the difficulties of managing an outsourced team. Casting about for a better solution, I stumbled across Crew and… I submitted a project…. Because Crew escrows the funds, I wasn’t worried about losing the money on shoddy work; I would only have to pay once I had approved the work quality.”
Within a day or two, Jonathan received three bids from experienced and talented companies, and after interviewing Airnauts, he selected them.
Airnauts is a creative digital engineering and design company based out of Warsaw, Poland. When they accepted the work from Jonathan, they knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
There were several different approaches for this project but picking the right one was a real struggle. They knew that the client previously had some difficulties and that this was not his first attempt to build this app.
Airnauts was excited to use this as an opportunity to prove itself as a reliable software design provider. One challenge in particular was a programming tool with which Airnauts began the project. Rather than increasing the project’s speed, it became clear the tool was more limited than expected and could not deliver the functionality it had initially promised. But Airnauts devised a workaround that allowed the project to continue without having to rewrite the app from scratch.
The most important aspect of this project was the ability to send and receive audio and video. Without these core elements, Jonathan would not be able to communicate with his boys throughout his house. So, Airnauts developed a solution where Jonathan could connect up to four Android tablets on a local network (not connected to an external party, for security reasons) with extremely low latency (< 300ms). In other words, in every interaction Jonathan’s voice would be crystal clear and the video smooth and sharp.
With an effective intercom system, Jonathan and his wife were able to keep tabs on their growing boys with a tap of a tablet, all while working on renovating their home.
Funding, new functions, and more!
After a bevy of press coverage including features on The Today Show, Business Insider, and TechCrunch, Nucleus has announced a $3.4m seed round led by Foxconn (who will be manufacturing the device), FF Angels, and StartUp PHL, a Philadelphia-based public/private fund led by Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital.
Nucleus has also evolved from just a communication device and now includes features such as home security, voice commands, and the ability to control smart appliances—connecting with products like Nest and SmartThings. Eventually, the team plans to develop an SDK so developers can take advantage of Nucleus’s prominent location in the home, using it as a central hub for the connected home.
Jonathan and his team are taking pre-orders now with Nucleus set to ship in Spring 2016.
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