Where are they now? Hussain and Patel of Cleu
By Jane Donahue For The Sun July 11, 2013 11:24AM
Kyle Patel, 27, is a co-founder of Cleu and a 2004 Waubonsie Valley High School graduate. | Submitted
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To learn more about Cleu or to download the free app, visit www.appstore.com/cleu
Updated: August 15, 2013 6:25AM
Dread the idea of the alarm clock going off in the morning? Two Naperville natives hope to change that.
Uzair Hussain, 26, and Kyle Patel, 27, are co-founders of Cleu, the “clever learning engineered unit” alarm clock that “engages with your digital and physical worlds.” It’s not like any alarm clock you’ve used before, creating a waking experience.
“It starts from a wake gesture that is different from your current iPhone alarm clock,” Hussain said. “From there, we build an experience around waking up and extending that interaction with your alarm clock.”
The two didn’t start off thinking about getting up in the morning — unless you mean for school. Both graduated from Waubonsie Valley High School in 2004. Hussain and Patel also worked together at the Apple store in downtown Naperville.
“We often talked about starting a company one day and came up with many different ideas,” Patel said. “Finally one stuck, and we ran with it. We left Apple in March 2011, and raised an investment to get us started. We then packed Uzair’s car with as much stuff as possible and drove to California in April 2011.”
The entrepreneurs said they didn’t set out to make an alarm clock app; instead, Cleu evolved from a health-care app they were working on.
“Cleu began as a dental appointment scheduling tool,” Hussain said. “It wasn’t until 2012 that we focused on the sleep sector in mobile (devices) and came about the possibilities of an alarm clock.”
Once the alarm is set, the screen displays the weather, so you know what it’s like outside with a glance. When the alarm sounds, instead of hitting a snooze or off button, users must “connect the dots” on the screen to complete a pattern, making sure you can’t inadvertently swipe a button for more sleep.
“We noticed a few years after the release of the iPhone, most customers were getting adept to the Apple alarm swipe from left to right,” he said. “Connecting the dots allows customers to utilize higher brain activity, which helps wake them without the nuisance found in more advanced gestures and wake options, like math problems.
“From there, we are focusing on extending the relationship with your alarm clock before you start hopping around to other apps such as weather.”
Hussain said it has been rewarding to be part of the “ideas that spin out of simple beginnings.”
“An alarm clock is a daily tool, but when you use this tool as the last before falling asleep and first upon waking up, it really allows for some creative angles to drive in.”
The Cleu app recently became a free download on iTunes, too.
“For me, the most rewarding part is realizing how much we can actually accomplish when we are focused and work hard,” Patel said.
Today, they live and work in California where they continue to work on Cleu and other ideas.
“What we see out right now is just the beginning,” Hussain said.
The pair is planning to release Cleu 2.0 later this fall.
“(It) will bring an entirely new look alongside more extensions of apps utilized in the morning — again, not focusing on replacing these other apps, simply utilizing what is relevant to the customer during the time of wake,” Hussain said.
If reviews of Cleu, like one in MacLife that called it “the best app for doing something you don’t want to do,” keep coming in strong, the second version has a lot to live up to.
“We ... believe this is exactly what we all have been looking for out of an alarm clock without the need to purchase other hardware accessories,” Hussain said.