Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

VCs — Not “Shark Tank” — Give DoorBot $1M for Caller ID for the Doorbell

A startup called DoorBot has raised $1 million after selling 10,000 Wi-Fi videocamera doorbells for $199.

Doorbot on Shark Tank

DoorBot on Shark Tank

DoorBot is a specialized smart home security device, so next time someone rings the bell outside your home, you can check who it is from an app on your phone — and without opening the door, talk to them via two-way audio.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company brought in the funding after failing to raise money on the ABC TV show “Shark Tank,” whose investors passed on the deal for various reasons including competition and security risks (only one of the five sharks offered to invest, but with an onerous royalty rate that the company declined).

But everything worked out okay. DoorBot was able to raise money at the same $7 million valuation that CEO Jamie Siminoff pitched on the show, he said this week.

The money came from more traditional technology investors including First Round Capital, Upfront Ventures, Charles River Ventures and Matt Mullenweg.

DoorbotDoorBot sales are accelerating, according to Siminoff, with $600,000 worth of sales in the past month. And the 16-person company is now profitable. Siminoff said his team’s key innovation is the ability to squeeze out a year of battery life by keeping the device deactivated and then very quickly waking it up within a second.

However, that design means that users can’t just open up the app and check outside their door at any time. They have to wait for someone to ring the bell. That should change in a coming update, Siminoff said.

DoorBot was actually the example hardware product sold by Siminoff’s startup Christie Street, which launched a year ago as a sort of specialized Kickstarter for products. Since then, sales of DoorBot vastly overshadowed interest in a new crowdfunding site.

“For whatever reason right now, the dollars are on Indiegogo and Kickstarter; that’s just where we are,” Siminoff said. “But the reality was, the silly side thing we launched became the business.”

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik