Raising a modern family is an ever-humbling endeavor that requires a peace of mind to deal with all the curve balls it throws. The simple keeping in touch with family gets lost in the mix of things and sometimes you just need to say hi. Introducing Nucleus, the Alexa enabled device that connects you with all of your other devices for easy video communication. Whether you want to check in on your sleeping child, a grandparent overseas, or even tell your spouse that you miss them at work, Nucleus is your go to. With customer satisfaction through the roof, it’s clear that it is the nucleus of their family.
AlleyWatch chatted with cofounder and CEO Jonathan Frankel about the company’s recent launch, as well as its Series A round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Nucleus has secured $5.6 million in Series A funding, led by the Alexa Fund. This is the first investment to be led by the Alexa Fund, and will include additional participation from BoxGroup, Greylock Partners, FF Angel (Founders Fund), Foxconn, Liquid 2 Ventures, and SV Angel.
Tell us about your product or service.
Nucleus is the first Alexa-enabled touchscreen device that debuted last month for a new approach to the home intercom
system. Its sleek, lightweight intercom can be placed anywhere in the home to create instant points of audio / video communication between rooms, between homes, or mobile-to-home with its app for iOS/Android. With Alexa, users can stream music from a number of platforms like iHeartRadio and Prime Music, connect with a wide range of compatible smart home products, and have access to a myriad of information and ever-growing number of Alexa skills.
Nucleus offers a wide-angle front-facing camera, microphone, speakers, and camera shutter for privacy. Devices are Wi-Fi enabled, or can be hardwired via an Ethernet cable. Setup is easy for anyone of any age or experience level, with an interface that’s straightforward and intuitive. It ships with everything needed to mount on a wall, or prop with the kickstand.
What inspired you to start the company?
I had just moved into a new home in the suburbs from New York City, with three very active little boys. I searched for an intercom system to install that would help me keep tabs on the kids, but quickly found the only options were clunky, outdated, expensive, and extremely complicated to install. Frustrated with the lack of options, I decided to create Nucleus as an intercom system designed for today’s families, with ease and simplicity at the core.
How is it different?
Nucleus is the first Alexa-enabled touchscreen device, thoughtfully designed to be effortless to setup and navigate, so it’s fun and simple for family members of every generation to connect instantly. Nucleus is also instant, and connects calls in under a second at the tap of a button.
Most platforms for video calls or conferencing tend to be sluggish, difficult to navigate (especially for first time users), unreliable connections, and have other points of friction that make the overall user experience unsatisfying.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We’re targeting the everyday consumers and families that want a better way to keep in touch, whether from across the hall, street, or state. We’re aiming to bring voice technology and connected home devices mainstream, particularly with homes outside of the typical early adopter areas like San Francisco and New York. In just one month, Nucleus devices have already sold in 47 states across the country.
What’s your business model?
Nucleus was designed for anyone, of any age. It takes about five minutes to install and one minute to activate, with a simple interface that’s Alexa-integrated so it will react to voice commands. Its software was made in-house so that calls to other devices are clear, rich, and connect instantly.
Each Nucleus device allows for two-way audio and HD video conversations with other approved Nucleus devices. Nucleus is intended for users to communicate between rooms within the home, or with devices installed in another home. Each device will have the ability to connect with mobile devices through the Nucleus app, available for iOS and Android, so users with a single device can still connect to the home.
With the popularity of cell phones, tablets, and other devices that users are already using and own, why do they need a tech-enabled intercom system??
Not only is Nucleus is the first Alexa-enabled device with a touchscreen, but it also allows for instant, frictionless connection. Nucleus is specifically designed to be intuitive so that anyone will know how to use it. This makes it easier than ever for Grandma to call and see her grandkids with just a click of a button.
What was the funding process like?
Very hard until it was very easy. Fundraising is mainly about two things: relationships and traction. At the beginning of a process, one or both of those ingredients may not be in place. But if you are patient and take time to get to know potential funding partners, while also putting some big wins on the board, those same partners who dismissed you at first are extremely interested in participating by the end.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Here’s a quote from David Tisch, Managing Partner of BoxGroup. “The magic of Nucleus is felt immediately upon installing the first set of devices. It’s rare to feel the value of a product the first time you use it, but with Nucleus, that magic gets better every time you use it and with every additional unit you buy. Family is at the core of most people’s lives, and Nucleus makes it easier and happier to communicate with your loved ones, within the same house, different houses, or while traveling.”
And from Steve Rabuchin, VP of Alexa Voice Services: “We are excited for the Alexa Fund to lead this round of investment in Nucleus and we are looking forward to helping the company continue its impressive growth trajectory,” said Steve Rabuchin, Vice President, Alexa. “We are impressed by customers’ excitement for Alexa and the new features continuously delivered by the Nucleus team, making the device a compelling way for families to communicate.”
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Over time Nucleus will continue to improve and get smarter. There are plans for new functionalities and features in the works that will help us continue to build an amazing experience for our community.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Capital is often a byproduct of successful execution. If you keep your head down, are scrappy, and make sure to focus on building a successful business, the capital will often quickly follow.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Right now we are focused on keeping up with the amazing demand and reaching homes across the country. We’re continually updating and improving the software to make the user experience as simple and frictionless as possible.
Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?
Dick and Jane’s on Adelphi in Fort Greene