For many inventors, the creation of a useful product is the ultimate goal. However, the most successful inventors are those who understand not only how to build, but also how to sell and scale that product. Jamie Siminoff, the inventor of the Ring doorbell camera, knows the value of business acumen and vision better than most. His journey from Ring’s inception as a conceptual prototype hand-built in his garage to a $1 billion acquisition from Amazon took only five years and changed the world of home security forever.
Almost as soon as he could walk, Siminoff was tinkering with everything he could get his hands on. Innovation came as naturally to him as breathing, and his parents encouraged him to experiment and learn. At seven years old, he invented a cooling system to sleep better in the summer by filling an aquarium with ice water and pumping it through hoses in his bed.
Jamie Siminoff built his first million dollar business in a garage
As a teenager, Siminoff found himself bored with school and largely ignored his homework and studies, preferring instead to build explosive devices and electronics. His father put him back on track academically by giving him an incentive for maintaining good grades—a Land Rover SUV. Thrilled by the deal, Siminoff re-prioritized and became a straight-A student.
At Babson College, a respected business school, he gained a strong foundation in entrepreneurship and business management. Although he didn’t think he was very talented, Siminoff found that he loved selling almost as much as inventing. After winning a competition for the best business plan, he switched from selling electronics on campus to selling business plans to other entrepreneurial students.
After graduating in 1999, he hired two friends and founded Edison Jr. in his garage. There, they worked on several small or unsuccessful ideas before hitting upon Siminoff’s first successful business, SimulScribe. Their main product, PhoneTag, was the first software to transcribe voicemail into text. It was sold to Ditech in 2009 for $17 million, and they immediately started another project with the profits.
The brilliant idea for video doorbells was born
Unsubscribe, the next business, was a premium service that removed customers from unwanted email subscriptions and spam lists. At the time, there was no similar service, and it, too, was quite successful. It faced a serious challenge, however, when Google came out with a similar service for free. His product was superior, though, and it regained most of its lost customers. In 2011, they sold the company to TrustedID for several million dollars.
With his share in the sales of these companies, Siminoff returned to tinkering full time in search of a product that would be truly revolutionary. While working on various product ideas, he found himself continually being either interrupted by the doorbell or missing important deliveries due to not hearing them at all. Frustrated, he searched for a product that would let him answer the door from afar, but he found nothing. A consummate inventor, he decided to make one for himself.
At the time, Siminoff didn’t see the concept as anything more than personal convenience. However, when he mentioned it to his wife, he was surprised to hear her endorse it enthusiastically. She told him that she would feel safer with it, an angle that he had not considered but immediately lit a spark in him. He realized that this was not only an unfilled niche in the market, but also a way to help make the world a better and safer place.
Jamie Siminoff’s invention was not an overnight success
While he and his team worked on a prototype, he began searching for investors to fund its production. With the reputation of the video doorbells on the market at the time, no one wanted to touch their product. Hundreds of investors turned him down. One tech industry adviser even told him that the concept was impossible. Siminoff knew that it was not only possible, but also a needed product with the potential to be widely used and profitable. Undeterred, he worked even harder on building it.
Soon, they had built a glitchy, but functional prototype and named it DoorBot. Suddenly, with a working model to demonstrate how different and functional the idea was, investors were willing to commit. Siminoff raised $364,000 through crowdfunding and produced the first wave of doorbells. As he had predicted, they sold well. Unfortunately, despite over a million dollars in sales each year, DooBot was losing money.
The company was nearly bankrupt, when an acquaintance gave him the email address of a Shark Tank producer, Siminoff jumped on the opportunity. He emailed the show with the proposal to come and pitch his product and, to his surprise, was accepted. He and his team used the company’s last $10,000 to build a set for the show, but despite his best efforts, he walked away empty-handed. Instead of giving up, though, they kept pushing on.
Richard Branson saw DoorBot’s potential
It was the right decision. Although Shark Tank didn’t give them extra funding, it gave them exposure to a much wider audience. After the episode aired, they made an additional $1 million in sales in the first month and $3 million more in the next year. Their biggest break came when Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Group, saw a guest use DoorBot on their phone to check on their house. He was immediately intrigued and sent Siminoff an offer to invest $28 million.
With the influx of money, the company changed the doorbells to a sleeker design and rebranded as Ring. Their reputation grew enormously in an unexpected way when NBA player Shaquille O’Neil came across the doorbells while looking for a home security system. After meeting Siminoff, he became the company’s spokesperson in exchange for a stake in the company.
Ring was acquired by Amazon for over $1 billion
Throughout the sudden, meteoric growth, Siminoff was true to his principles. When he first launched DoorBot, he put his personal email on the box to get direct feedback from customers. When they rebranded to Ring, he kept it there. Even after the company got big, he would often answer directly to help diagnose issues, and he would sometimes even show up in person to fix them. In addition, he donated over a million dollars worth of Ring doorbells to Shaquille O’Neill to install in inner-city neighborhoods.
His vision and dedication resulted in dramatic growth in revenue and profitability. In 2018, Amazon acquired Ring for between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion. Siminoff stayed on as CEO, although he always called himself “Chief Inventor” when holding that position in a company. Ring now has over 2,000 employees and brings in nearly $200 million annually in revenue.
Jamie Siminoff’s net worth
Success hasn’t stopped Jamie Siminoff from continuing to invent and innovate. His mission to make neighborhoods safer continues, a goal as important to him as building the company. Under his guidance, Ring has launched several product lines, the newest of which is an upcoming home security drone. And, despite a net worth of over $300 million, he still makes the occasional house call to fix an issue with his invention.