After graduating from Babson in 1999, Jamie Siminoff established Edison Jr., the nickname for his garage where he worked on his inventions. Jamie started several businesses during and after his time in college, including Unsubscribe.com which allowed users to stop spam emails and PhoneTag which transcribed voicemails. However, none turned out to be long-term ventures.
One time, while tinkering with ideas inside Edison Jr., Jamie was unable to hear the doorbell. He searched for a product that would send the video of who was at the door to his phone, but he couldn’t find one. Jamie remembers saying, “screw it, I’ll just build my own [doorbell] that goes to my phone”, and his company DoorBot, the name prior to Ring, was conceived. At first, Jamie couldn’t see the value of his product. In fact, it was his wife who told Jamie she felt safer in the home which made Jamie decide to take it on as a “fun little side project”, but it quickly became much more than that.
Many founders have an “Aha” moments when they realize they have created a product that fits perfectly into an untapped market, but it turns out that Siminoff didn’t originally design the doorbell for a consumer, but rather a simple fix to an issue in his life. Jamie spent “over a year” playing around with the design of the doorbell for him to even consider it worth pursuing independently. He made an important point: it takes time for even someone sitting right in front of a product to see if it could be successful, and you have to “allow things to naturally happen instead of forcing them”.
It seems as if Jamie stumbled upon gold with his idea of the video doorbell, but rather his whole life had been building up to that moment. The founder of Ring created many companies before his doorbell invention, which was “equally as important [to Ring] becoming a successful and impactful business” since each failure taught him a different lesson. Jamie also mentioned it actually took “20 years” of being an inventor and entrepreneur that culminated to Ring becoming successful.
In 2013, Jamie Siminoff took his video doorbell company, known as DoorBot at the time, to the investors on Shark Tank. Siminoff rejected an offer from Kevin O’Leary, one of the Sharks on the show, and walked away without an investment. Although no capital was gained from his pitch, DoorBot experienced mass media coverage after the airing of the episode, and after rebranding the company as Ring, sales exploded. It was possible that Ring could have gone under if not for the help of Shark Tank, but Siminoff noted that he didn’t build his company knowing he would air on the show. Instead, he simply put himself in the best position to someday get lucky, and that’s all that entrepreneurs and inventors can do, he says. Siminoff compared his company to the lottery: “the more you work the more lottery tickets you accumulate, and at some point, the chance of you hitting the lottery is higher if you buy more tickets”. Most aren’t as lucky as Siminoff and his team with their opportunity to be on a national television show. Often, companies with great a great product, ideas, and business model fail. Siminoff’s experience shows that the best way to craft a successful business is to simply increase your chances of getting lucky because “lucky breaks are critical”.
However, luck was certainly not the only driving factor with Ring’s eventual success, but it was also Jamie’s perception of competition. Jamie emphasized that an entrepreneur shouldn’t get bogged down with certain features of a competitor’s product, but rather what the customer is trying to tell you. As Jamie explains, at the end of the day, a customer will choose the product that reliably offers them the best experience. Siminoff says if you fail to build a satisfactory product for the customer, they’ll simply return it. That’s why he strives to “have [his] team say that the competition is the consumer and what they think of the product” instead of trying to one-up a competitor. Ring works backward from the customer and always has a central focus on two things: their mission and the customer. This is how you’ll put yourself in the best position to win the market.
Just another part of Jamie Siminoff’s business is the core mission that he’s had from the beginning of Ring, which is to reduce crime in neighborhoods. He strongly believes that if a company has a mission that the founders believe can positively impact the world, everything else about the business will fall into place. He summarizes the success during the early stages of Ring by saying that a powerful mission will be “better at getting employees to come work for you because people want to work for a thing that makes people’s lives better. Your customers are going to be more inspired by a product that is better for the world than one that is not. Your marketing is going to have more impact because your marketing something that is not just saying, ‘hey buy this product’”. His mission of making everyday people feel more safe is what helped him persevere through difficult times during the integration of Ring into the market, and his mission has helped him plan the next 20 years of his company. If there was one common thread between how Jamie Siminoff was able to take a Wi-Fi doorbell from Edison Jr. to finally selling his vision to Amazon, it was his main goal of preventing crime in his customers’ homes.
In the end, Siminoff and his team were indeed able to win the market. He was able to beat the competition at every stage of his company that attempted to copy his video doorbell idea. In recent year, he returned to Shark Tank, not as someone seeking an investment, but actually as a Shark himself. Eventually, Ring was sold to Amazon for over $1 billion, Amazon’s second-largest acquisition. However, this feat wasn’t made possible by just a great product, but rather by a mission that is making a difference in our world and by a strong leader that has guided the company through thick and thin.
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