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DoorBot drops into the Shark Tank

Don’t know if you’re a fan of Shark Tank, but I am.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Shark Tank is yet another one of those addictive reality shows – but without the dumb down.

Entrepreneurs come on the show a pitch their business to a group of potential investors, a.k.a., the sharks. (The most well-known shark is probably Mark Cuban, the tech entrepreneur who’s also the owner of the Dallas Mavericks.) The sharks spend some time evaluating the product, then decide whether, as an individual investor, they want to fund it, announcing how much they want to put in, and what they want in return (equity, royalties…) There’s often a bit of back and forth negotiating between the entrepreneur and the shark, and sometimes between the sharks themselves.

I don’t know how many successes the Shark Tank has actually resulted in, but the show’s very interesting, and it’s fun to see the speed-dating version of what entrepreneurs go through as they try to get their products to market.

I especially enjoyed last Friday’s episode, as one of the products being pitched was from one of my favorite arenas, the Internet of Things.

DoorBot is a “Wi-Fi enabled, video doorbell that allows you to see and talk with visitors through your smartphone from anywhere in the world.” To some extent, this sounds like a solution to a non-problem  – isn’t checking out who’s on your front stoop what peepholes and living room drapes are for? – but it gets more interesting when it’s combined with Lockitron, which is another Internet of Thing thing. (Lockitron lets you use your smartphone to remotely unlock your door.) So, with DoorBot, you could be at work, see that your in-laws had shown up early for the weekend, and let them in.

DoorBot did a little back and forth on a possible deal with one of the sharks, but in the end they walked away empty-handed after flat-out turning down a $700,000 offer. Sometimes I really wonder about some of the people who go on the show!

Not to worry: they’ve been successful at crowdfunding through Christie Street, which is run by the same guys who invented Doorbot. So perhaps they are smarter than this viewer, who is fascinated by both technology and business.  If you’re wondering, Christie Street is both the address for Thomas Edison’s lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey, and the first street that used electric street lights.

Wonder what the sharks would have made of Edison and his light bulb?