Andrew Frame

Founder of Citizen

Andrew Frame is the Founder and CEO of Citizen. Founded in 2017, Citizen is the first app to combine location information with 911 intelligence to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Andrew is a serial entrepreneur and expert software programmer having founded his first company, an internet service provider, at the age of 15. Frame later went on to found Ooma, a consumer telecommunications company, in 2004.

Frame spent his early career working with network infrastructure. At 17, he joined Cisco Systems in 1997 as a support engineer, and was eventually recruited to the Global Center of Expertise (GCOE) team with a focus on routing architecture. He received dual CCIE Certifications, a top technical certification at Cisco, during his first year at the company, making him the youngest person ever to earn this certification. Frame was born in Las Vegas but now spends most of his time in both Los Angeles and New York, where Citizen is headquartered.

Where did the idea for Citizen come from?

In building my next company, it was really important for me to do something that was mission-oriented, consumer, could get to global scale, and would hopefully improve the world in many ways. When I started thinking about what the world was missing, it struck me that there was no free product that used technology to keep you safe anywhere in the world; I realized I needed to create Citizen.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Before the pandemic, Citizen was headquartered in New York City. The company has since transitioned to being remote-first – but kept core working hours in EST – and I’ve spent much of the past year and a half in Los Angeles. I’m a morning person, so I typically wake up at the crack of dawn, make myself a pour-over coffee, exercise, and listen to a news podcast. I find that I’m most productive earlier in the day, so this has been a welcome change for me.

My standup meetings with the team begin at 7am, and then I spend much of the day thinking about and working on Product. My strengths as a thinker and builder lie in Product, and I meet with our Product Managers most days to talk about how we’re tracking against our goals.

A passion I’ve discovered during the pandemic is ballroom dancing. I typically finish my day with a dance class, a homecooked meal (I love experimenting with Italian dishes), a glass of red wine, and a book of poetry or literature.

How do you bring ideas to life?

First, by surrounding myself with a mission-oriented, brilliant team. Team is everything – always hire people who are smarter than you. My team at Citizen is made up of some of the most skilled and thoughtful people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

Second, by prioritizing ruthlessly. If I tried to bring all of my ideas to life, I wouldn’t get anything done. So I and the team are strategic about what we’re building, why, and how it fits into Citizen’s vision of a global network of people protecting each other. If it doesn’t fit within that vision, then it’s unlikely to be built.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The world has gone mobile. We are at the pure infancy of what’s possible with nearly 4 billion smartphones worldwide. Phones can and should be doing so much more to fulfill humans’ basic needs. In the case of Citizen, that means safety.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I believe that my passions outside of work make me a more productive entrepreneur. Much of my inspiration comes not from reading technology or business books, but from studying poetry, literature, and film. I encourage my entire team to engage with their hobbies outside of work – in fact, whenever we introduce a new employee to the rest of the team at our weekly all-hands, we ask them to share their favorite hobby outside of work.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Embrace and discover new hobbies. Read literature, philosophy, poetry, continue educating yourself. I haven’t read a technology or business book in years. I get more inspiration out of literature and plays than I do from anything modern.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Taking user feedback seriously. As a company, we’re extremely focused on understanding how our users engage with Citizen, what their favorite features are, and what they’d like to see more of. We often invite app users to join team meetings so we can better understand how they use the app and how we can make Citizen even better. This practice has led to the development of many of our top features, including Protect, our premium on-demand, personalized mobile safety product.

Key Learnings:

  • Team is everything – surround yourself with a mission-oriented, brilliant team
  • Embrace and discover new hobbies
  • Take user feedback seriously