Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

 

Appearing on Shark Tank can be a particular form of masochism.

Here are these lumberingly slick entrepreneurs who made mansions-full of money, acting as if they always know what makes money and what doesn't. And there are you just wanting to get a little lucre, however filthy, to keep your business going and perhaps get it to prosper.

The sharks don't often mention all the failed investments they made. Because, well, that's not terribly good for their image.

You're there to make them feel superior in that bullfighter-slays-a-bull-on-Valium kind of way. You're also there to represent the little person who has a dream or at least wants to live on his or her own terms for as long as possible.

Imagine, then, the entertainment that Jamie Siminoff represented for the sharks and their handlers in Sea-TV World.

His idea was simple. It was called DoorBot. It allows you to talk to someone who rings your doorbell, even though you're not at home. It's perfect for when strangers (or burglars) come a-calling. You just talk to them through your phone.

Siminoff went on the show in 2013 to get a mere $700,000 for 10 percent in his company. Yes, the equivalent of just one wardrobe-full of Mr. Wonderful’s suits.

He already had $1 million in sales, but one by one, the sharks declared themselves out. They offered all sorts of reasoning. Surely this product would just get copied. The price was too high. The company wouldn't grow.

He got only one offer. It wasn't wonderful.

As Business Insider remembers it, Kevin O'Leary offered him the $700,000 loan. For which he'd scrape off 10 percent of the profits until the loan was paid off. Oh, and then he wanted a 7 percent royalty on all future sales, not to mention 5 percent of DoorBot's equity.

What a reasonable, as well as wonderful, man. He claimed he was taking an enormous risk. He used the mellifluous taunt "You're dead to me, because you don't want to take my offer."

To his endearing and enduring credit, Siminoff placed his thumb beneath his teeth and then flicked it at O'Leary. Metaphorically, you understand.

What some people forget, however, is that merely appearing on Shark Tank can be a great ad for you and your company. Indeed, real human beings--some of them with money--found that DoorBot rang a bell with them. They started to buy it.

The product was taken so seriously by real people in the real world that Siminoff changed its name to Ring. One day, one of these real people was vacationing on Necker Island. He used Ring to answer the door in San Francisco. Next to him happened to be Richard Branson. (Well, he does own the place.) What was that, Branson wondered.

From there it seemed like one natural, strange step to the next. Branson invested in Ring; now instead of being worth $7 million, the company, which has just gotten another $28 million in funding, is valued at $60 million.

The joy of the tale is twofold. One, that Siminoff had enough faith in himself and his product not to take an offer that felt like having at least two of his limbs bitten off and his nose nibbled to leave a souvenir.

Two, that no matter how hard you work, you have to hope for a little good fortune that can catapult your business from here to somewhere you might not have imagined.

Siminoff admits that he can't quite believe what happened. He calls the story "surreal."

At times, life itself is surreal. Just like TV.

If you make an appearance in life, you never know what turns it might take.

For Siminoff, the stars of TV were eclipsed first by those who loved his idea and then by someone who's a little more famous than all the Shark Tank stars put together.

Published on: Aug 19, 2015