Shark Tank Contestant Siminoff Tells Doorbot Story at StartupCamp9

By Paula Bernier August 13, 2014

The opportunity for specialized devices on the Internet of Things frontier appears to be limitless, but getting such solutions from concept to reality is no easy feat. Tonight at StartupCamp9 at ITEXPO, Jamie Siminoff, founder and CEO of Doorbot, and a recent contestant of the TV show Shark Tank, told his story of how he did it.

Siminoff’s Doorbot solution is a doorbell with a built-in camera that displays on users’ smartphones a live video feed so they can see who is ringing their bell.

He started the talk by sharing his experience on Shark Tank. To get ready for the show, on which contestants plea their cases for why they should get funding from the likes of judge Mark Cuban, Siminoff said he trained for eight hours a day for about a month. Those exercises included answering questions, asking neighbors to act as judges, and doing constant product testing.

While Siminoff did get funding on Shark Tank, he said it was a positive experience that put the Doorbot product in front of 10 million viewers, got it nationwide recognition, and helped it shipped 20,000 units and reach a $5 million-plus sales run rate.

“The show is incredibly real, and a very cool thing,” he said.

To raise money to get Doorbot to market, Siminoff ultimately elected to do crowdfunding, which is a mechanism enabling small newcomers like his carve out a space in the growing IoT market.

“It’s not a silver bullet, but it can get you there,” he said.

Not only can it provide you with funding, but it can also give you the sense of whether the product makes sense to people. One downside of crowdfunding is that if your product doesn’t meet expectations, it can get extremely negative quickly, he said.

For those thinking about introducing an IoT product, Siminoff offered the following tips. Focus on a solution that addresses a simple, understandable problem, and don’t build something with a ton of features, he said. Get as far as you can before you do crowdfunding or presale. Try not to promise too much. Leverage as many existing products and/or services as you can. And, have a tough skin and an iron stomach – you will need it.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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Executive Editor, TMC

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