DoorBot: A Luxury All Tiers Can Enjoy

By: Elizabeth Francois,
Writer & Clothing Designer
Twitter: @elizfrancois
Facebook: Elizabeth's Note Book

On this week’s episode of Shark Tank, although one Shark nibbled then passed, no one took a bite. First up in the Tank was Jamie Siminoff, a Santa Monica, California based inventor and creator of the DoorBot - a video doorbell built for the Smart Phone. He was seeking an investment of $700,000 for a 10% equity stake in his business. Jamie walked down the hall and knocked on the closed, heavy, wooden double doors, the Sharks on the other sided responded, Jamie entered the tank and began his pitch.

The DoorBot is a doorbell with a WiFi-connected video camera that shows a live video of who is at a front door, on a smartphone. When the doorbell button is pressed, the video camera activates and sends a live video to the smartphone. The device has two-way audio and one-way video and works whether an individual is home or away, thereby enabling the person to see and speak to whoever is at the front door. The device is currently selling online at a cost of $199.

Jamie gave a great demonstration. While holding a cardboard cutout of Mr. Wonderful up to the DoorBot and poking fun of the royalty structure Kevin always offers, he explained how the device worked with the smartphone. He ended the demo by asking the Sharks who will be the first to “ring his bell” – no pun intended.

To Jamie’s surprise, the Sharks were quite skeptical of the unit. Mark joked that all burglars ring the doorbell before entering – but Jamie beat him to the punch and agreed with Mark, claiming that burglars are not violent criminals and usually ring the bell of a house they are about to rob. However, despite the impressive financial figures of the DoorBot since its launch nine months ago ($1 million in sales with monthly sales steadily rising), the Sharks were not biting. Mark was looking for sustainability; he was unable to see how the DoorBot would go from $7 million to $80 or $90 million, and so he went out. Lori just couldn’t connect with the product (whatever the heck that means), and so she opted out as well. Daymond explained that he just couldn’t figure out where this product fit in regards to the three-tiered market place, and went out for that reason alone. Robert, who is all about technology and security, went out after freaking out at the thought of having a device attached to his home that anyone could hack into. With only one Shark left, Jamie picked up the cardboard cutout and tried appealing to Mr. Wonderful’s sensibility, which is more commonly known as money.

Kevin, like a Shark ready to snag its prey, made Jamie an offer of $700,000 for a 10% royalty which drops to 7% after the $700,000 is recouped, plus 5% equity in the company. Jamie, however, could not take this offer because he felt a royalty would essentially bleed the company of the funds it needed to grow. Jamie was not quite ready to become prey, and had some moves of his own. He countered with a venture debt offer consisting of a loan for $700,000 at 10% interest, plus 3% equity in the company. Kevin declined the offer and gave Jamie one last chance at his original offer. Jamie graciously responded that he would have to respectfully decline.

As an apartment dweller who falls in the lower tier of the three-tier market place Daymond described, I can say that the DoorBot is an ideal product for me. Despite Robert’s thoughts that the $199 price point was a bit too high, the sales figures clearly show that consumers believe the device is well worth the cost. As for me, I can’t even count the number of times I have been at home soaking comfortably in the tub only to hear a knock on my door. It’s got to be pretty high up there on the annoying spectrum of life. Had I possessed a DoorBot, instead of creating mini-oceans down the hall as I walked to my door to greet my guests (with a smile of course), I could have easily answered the door with my smartphone, all from the luxury of my bathtub.

Jeff Hopkins2 Comments