This Richard Branson-backed startup failed on 'Shark Tank' -- but just raised $61 million from Kleiner Perkins

RingRing CEO Jamie Siminoff

Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff says it still feels surreal when he talks about his 5-year old company.

After struggling for the first 3 years, Ring’s smart video doorbell business has been on a wild ride, going on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” getting funded by Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, and becoming one of the hottest startups in the world.

“It doesn’t even feel real,” Siminoff told Business Insider.

And Ring’s hot streak continues: On Wednesday, Ring announced it raised $61.2 million in funding from a group of investors led by VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, bringing in one of the most successful Silicon Valley VC firms as an investor. Branson has also joined the latest round.

“We’re a real company, solving a real problem, creating real revenue,” Siminoff said. “It’s really about just building a good company that makes our users’ lives better.”

Ring of security around your front door

Ring makes a doorbell that lets you see who’s at your door through your smartphone. Users can remotely see and talk to the person at the door, and even pretend they’re at home when they’re not — making it a convenient home-security device.

The product may sound simple, but it’s clearly filling a need. Siminoff says Ring is helping reduce home burglaries, and it’s translating into huge sales growth as well.

“The reality is that most crime in neighbourhoods is day-time burglaries when no one’s home. We’ve seen a significant drop in crime,” Siminoff said.

Ring had “north of” $100 million in sales last year, growing 12-times compared to the previous year, according to Siminoff. In 2013, just before he went on “Shark Tank,” Ring only had around $250,000 in revenue.

He wouldn’t comment on the latest valuation of his company, but it could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars given that it’s raised over $100 million so far. It was valued at $60 million when it raised $28 million in August 2015.

Siminoff says he wasn’t really looking for additional funding when Kleiner Perkins first reached out this year. But the VC firm saw the same kind of community forming around Ring as it saw around driving app Waze (another Kleiner-backed startup that was acquired by Google for roughly $1 billion), and they quickly reached a deal, he says.

Ring doorbellRingRing is a smart doorbell that lets you see who’s at your door and buzz them in from your phone.

Most well-funded “Shark Tank” contestant ever

With the new round of funding, Siminoff claims Ring is the most well-funded and highest valued “Shark Tank” contestant ever. That might be true given most of the successful “Shark Tank” contestants are generating less than $20 million in sales.

Ironically, Siminoff wasn’t able to raise any money on “Shark Tank.” None of the sharks were impressed, and the one offer he got was a terrible royalty deal that would have taken away a portion of its sales forever.

But after the “Shark Tank” appearance, Ring’s sales instantly jumped, getting “at least $5 million in additional sales” as a result of it, according to Siminoff.

“We’d either be out of business today if it wasn’t for ‘Shark Tank,'” Siminoff said. “I don’t think we’d be where we are without that shot of adrenaline.”

Richard Branson as an investor

RBransonRingRingRichard Branson holding one of Ring’s products

But the biggest benefit of going on “Shark Tank” was probably how it helped land Richard Branson as an early investor.

After “Shark Tank,” Ring’s sales exploded and one of its customers happened to be vacationing at Branson’s island. Branson, who was apparently sitting next to that person, saw how he used Ring through his smartphone, and was instantly impressed.

Soon, Siminoff and Branson connected, and in less than 48 hours, Branson agreed to join in the $28 million round announced last August.

Branson brings a lot to the table, including his vast network and experience from running multiple businesses. But Siminoff says the best part of having him is learning from his long-term vision.

“He’s only talking about the 10 and 15 year stuff,” Siminoff said. “He’s really one of those more thoughtful and strategic investors that we have.”

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