I was sitting at home one night watching the local news when a guy came on the TV. He was talking about his new product that was designed to help families monitor their children’s wifi usage.
I was instantly hooked.
Now, my toddler isn’t old enough to be using his own wifi or devices just yet but I know it’s gonna be a battle once that time comes.
Seeing Jelani Memory explain this simple cube looking device was fantastic. A father seeing a problem, who came up with a solution.
What started as a Kickstarter failure, happened to catch the eyes of Disney. From there, Circle found a whole new world and is giving parents something to cheer about.
We connected with Jelani to talk about fatherhood, startups, and why Circle with Disney really is about being able to spend more time with family.
As a dad, what inspired you to develop Circle with Disney?
It was really about looking at my daughter and wanting her to have a great relationship with technology. When I was a kid, there was just a family computer, now my little 6 year old has her own iPad mini. She can do fantastic things with it, but it was important to me that there was a simple way to manage how much time she spent there and on the other gadgets in the home, as well as what content is available. The most important job in my life is to raise my daughter and considering how prominent technology and the internet plays a role in her life, having the right tools there became incredibly important.
How did your professional background help in creating Circle?
At my core I’m an artist. I spent time as a kid wanting to draw comic books, that moved to sketching sneakers and wanting to pursue industrial design. I spent a decade directing film, doing commercial photography, and creative consulting. So I approach everything from the stand point of design, aesthetic, and experience. I tried to bring a lot of that to how Circle looked, the way it functioned, and what it did and am really pleased with what we’ve built.
How long did it take from conception to delivery to create Circle?
Just about 3 years. It was a long hard road, but we solved so many problems along the way and built something that parents and families really love.
How is Circle different from products currently on the market?
We’re different in quite a few different ways. First, not being a router. Routers are a pain and replacing them is no fun. No one wants to change their WiFi passwords for every device in their home, so not being the router is huge. Second, covering the whole network. There are a lot of software solutions that are ok, but they tend to be complicated and you have to configure them for each device. The last is simplicity. We have created a product that is insanely easy to set up, super simple to manage, and looks beautiful to boot!
How has Circle been received within the parenting and tech communities?
Overwhelmingly positive. We’ve garnered fantastic tech press across the board and parents have fallen in love with the ease and simplicity we’ve brought to solving such major problem they have. It literally couldn’t be better.
Partnering with Disney must have been a huge boost of support. What’s it been like to start off with such a significant brand supporting your product?
Partnering with Disney has been incredible. Where as we may have been an interesting start up with a neat product, partnering with Disney has given us a tremendous amount of visibility and trust with families everywhere. They’ve also been really fantastic in their input on the product and helping us create the best solution possible for families.
As a father and founder/CEO of a business how do you manage your business requirements while still maintaining quality time with your family and baby?
I freelanced for a decade, so I’ve learned how to balance home, life, work, friends, family quite well. It’s never an option for me to work 60-70 hour weeks. It just doesn’t make any sense. Not only am I less productive, but all the other areas of my life suffer. Part of being good at my job means being healthy and having space to think and imagine. That only happens when life and work are in balance.
Circle with Disney retails for $99 and is available here. Circle can manage any device but currently setup and management of Circle’s settings requires an iOS device.