Not many 13-year-old boys have created their own apps. But Nachshon Fertel isn’t just any 13-year-old boy.
The Park Heights resident, one of five children born to Ari and Mort Fertel, has been creating his own businesses since he was 8, when he sold used electronics on Amazon. Now, he’s launched Frum Finder, an app available for download on Apple and Android platforms that helps people find resources in Baltimore’s Jewish community.
Fertel, who is home schooled and belongs to B’nai Jacob Shaarei Zion Congregation, explained that he first came upon the idea for the app when he was looking up something in the Eruv List directory.
“I wondered why the book was still only available in hard copy. Everything is digital now,” said Fertel. “So I looked into it and found that no one else in Baltimore was doing an app like this. I had no competitors.”
Fertel said it took him about eight months to complete the app, which provides users with names, addresses and landline phone numbers for households, restaurants, businesses, synagogues, schools and hospitals as well as emergency and government contacts.
“I couldn’t include cell phone and email addresses because that’s illegal, but there is a way that people can type in that information by themselves,” said Fertel, who has taken several courses in computer programming at the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.
The most challenging part of the project was figuring out how to get all of the information into the app without typing it in, he recalled. He can’t explain how he did it, though. That’s his secret.
The app first went live in mid-February, and Fertel said it is really catching on this month. While the app is free, he eventually plans to sell advertising to make a profit.
“I plan to give 10 percent of the money to tzedakah,” he said.
His mother said her son has always been interested in technology and business.
“From an early age he always wanted to understand the language of technology,” said Ari Fertel. “If there’s ever an issue with the computer at home, everyone says, ‘Where’s Nachshon?’
“I’m most proud of the fact that he is helping and enhancing Jewish Baltimore,” she continued. “He gives back, and I think that’s a very important lesson.”