Jamie Siminoff always loved to tinker, even as a young boy. And some of his “gadgets” did very well for him and his partners. One sold for $17 million in 2009, and he used his share to tinker full time. He was working on a gardening system in his workshop (aka garage) and realized he couldn’t tell if someone was at the front door. So he rigged himself up a Wi-Fi doorbell that would alert him on his smart phone when someone rang the bell, and he could see and talk with the person. When his wife mentioned how much safer she felt when home alone, he began to develop the doorbell for the mass market and named his company, Doorbot. Doorbot was the first ever Wi-Fi-enabled video doorbell that interfaces with the homeowner’s smart phone to allow two-way audio communication and one-way video surveillance. You could speak to, say, a delivery person (or, say, a wannabe burglar) as though you were home even when far away.
An entrepreneur acquaintance suggested that he try out for Shark Tank and gave him an email address for one of the producers. Jamie shot off a message right then, and he heard back that same day.
Four of the sharks found flaws that they thought would be fatal in the Doorbot and passed. Kevin made an offer, and Jamie passed. He left the tank devastated. He was out of money. But more than that, because he was bothered by the flaws that the sharks pointed out to him.
Where Is Doorbot (Ring) Now?
It turned out that Jamie didn’t need an investment from the sharks, he needed the publicity from the Shark Tank. In the first month after the episode aired, Doorbot racked up more than $1 million in sales, $3 million in the first year. Jamie re-engineered the Doorbot to perform more functions and created a whole line of home security solutions, and Doorbot became Ring. He sold Ring on QVC: 140,000 units in 24 hours to the tune of $22.5 million.
Ring attracted some surprising attention. Richard Branson, for instance. Richard had invited a friend to his private island and watched incredulously as the friend talked to a UPS driver who was at his front door on the other side of the world. Richard invested $28 million in Ring couple days later. Shaquille O’Neal, for another example. Shaq had bought a Ring and saw Jamie at a tech gadget trade show. He stopped to tell him how much he loved it and ended up endorsing Ring products on TV and online for a stake in the company. Jamie donated $1 million worth of Ring products to the state of Georgia, and Shaq helped to install them.
In 2018, Amazon bought Ring for $1+ billion. Jamie remains as CEO. He is the first Shark Tank contestant to return to the tank as a shark!
Ring is now under Congressional scrutiny for poor data security and questionable privacy practices. Concerns include:
- Ring has inadequate information security and shares users’ videos with its Ukraine-based research team.
- Engineers and executives at Ring have “highly privileged access” to live customer camera feeds, from the doorbells and the in-home cameras.
- Ring traded access to videos to hundreds of police forces for free advertising.
- Ring doorbells expose home Wi-Fi passwords to hackers.
- Ring customers can be spied on through the use of their email addresses.