Shark Tank Featured Startup: Doorbot

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Mar 05, 2014

This company is worth $7 million already and was featured on US TV show Shark Tank.

Doorbot has developed a video enabled doorbell and claims no other product even comes close to its $200 pricetag. Essentially a doorbell replacement that lets you see who is ringing the front door on your cellphone, Doorbot indeed has the 'cool factor' and over 10,000 units sold.

But the question: is it worth the price? Were the Sharks smart for passing, or did they see problems? In this note we examine Doorbot.

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Bright ******?

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Comments (15)

Good article. Why not 1.3 MP cam, motion sensor, I'm assuming price point. Sounds like it's nowhere close.

In the link to the poor video/audio quality support, the first thing that strikes me

"Doorbot uploads audio and video through your router to our servers, which requires a considerable amount of bandwidth"

So they provide a cloud service. If this is the architecture then there is more to it than just the local wireless connection which the nice gentleman was explaining in his testing.

The product sounds nice, but the fact that they say it uploads to their server just killed it for me.

This is correct, and is reportedly the culprit for the product's performance issues to this point. If they had designed the product to stream video directly via WiFi from the unit to a cellphone, it certainly would work better. But this would exclude use when the phone is not on the same WiFi network, if you were away from home or on a trip, etc...

As a result, the plan calls for everything to be piped to the cloud and then redirected to a phone, even if you're standing feet away. The backend is a mess, and the company is trying to sort out the problems of serving video remotely!

It one of those great ideas that no one has been able to excute. And keep the price low enough for avg household. Maybe Nest will come to rescue? But then again , Google will know even more about us then they do now.

It's like the piper. Great idea but still in beta. Hopefully, couple of interations they can get better.

Paresh

Need a visual of the communication paths/links. Block diagram? Cell phones today use Cell, WiFi And/or bluetooth for data. Mentions only Wifi and then discovering cloud service with the latency? And viewing from afar?

Appears to be bot to router over WiFi to WAN up to the Cloud. Then what? Dialing the Cell back? Or WAN back and WiFi to the phone? Missing is the Cell phone data settings. Data over Cell only. Data over Cell and/Or nearby selected WiFi connections. If from afar?

More like a combination lock with not just 4 numbers or letters. But adding a couple extra and, an 'if-then-else' statement or two. A Ki Kis is sss principle?

Anything that requires a trip out to the Internet and back will mean some sort of lag. Just look at how long it can sometimes take to refresh a web page.

If users are expecting to be able to instantly access the video/audio feed in realtime, they are bound to be disappointed.

But you have to remember, this is a $200 pricepoint, that in todays world is basically a throwaway product. Meaning a consumer will be happy paying $200, using it for what it is (cool factor) and if it stops working, whatever.

Pretty genious idea, better get ready residential installers, as soon as it hits the market, clients are going to choose to do business with the integrator that has the product they want!

"But you have to remember, this is a $200 pricepoint, that in todays world is basically a throwaway product."

What country club are you a member of? :)

I actually do think $200 for a working, combo home security device is feasible but it's probably going to be an upper middle class / rich device at that price point.

$200 for a video doorbell, $150 for lockitron, another few hundred for intrusion, that starts adding up...

I think the rub is that Doorbot simply doesn't work as advertised, not that it stops working.

I worked at Taco Bell in high school. I had a dude threaten to kill me over a $.59 burrito because it didn't have onions on it. I indeed took the veins bulging out of his forehead as a sign of his sincerity. If he wanted to drop me over $0.59, I can't even imagine what $200 does.

Eugene Oregon, Go Ducks! More of a trailer park than Country Club :)

We are so far behind the technology curveball here its not even funny. But we sell so many gadgets and understand the $200 pricetag is not an issue for most. Shoot, even the homeless folks could put this up on their tent doors!

Income devide has gotten worse than ever. I can probably afford to throw away $200 and try to recover what I can on Ebay but lot of people out there are hurting.

Another example: I called Control4 integrator for quote to fix few things that were broken and to upgrade OS/software to latest version. And refine and add more features. The first quote was close to $10k. I then took some features out and still it was $3k. It's just too expensive. In hindsight, I wished I did not get Control4.

There is pend up demand for low cost easy to setup devices and services. Home control and security is ripe for disruptive solution.

Will Google/Nest play distruptive role? Not sure if $129 x number of rooms for smoke detector is affordable.

Will Dropcal expand and grow home market?

You have to remember, this will be pitched as a DIY product. $200 is far less in their minds than hiring a company to come out, quote, sell, install, and suppor this product.

We are also doing a house right now with 2 Nest Thermostats and whole home using Nest Smoke detectors!

DIY market will hurt the integrators if we don't embrace and get on board with some of the technology

Ryan, I agree that it can / will hurt integrators.

There is an alternative to even spending even $200. That's to spend nothing :) For instance, I have no video doorbell and yet I am perfectly content without one!

Update: DoorBot is reporting it secured $4.5 million in funding today.

UPDATE: Doorbot is no more.

They've rebranded themselves as Ring, 'and introduced redesigned hardware with more of a focus on home security'.

This techcrunch quote from the founder is one of the most cringe-inducing statements I have ever read:

"With the Ring doorbell, early on when we were designing it, we decided what we were really doing was designing the alarm system literally turned inside out,” Siminoff said. “Not an alarm system that copied what ABT is doing, what Canary is doing, or even what Dropcam was doing with its window and door systems, but actually building some kind of pre-crime system."

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