In late 2013, all the Sharks on Shark Tank
declined to invest in Jamie Simino;’s Wi-Fi-enabled video doorbell company, which he
started in his garage in Los Angeles. This
February, Amazon announced that it would
acquire Ring in a deal reported to be worth
more than $1 billion. —AS TOLD TO EMILY CANAL
In 2011, I was 35 and I had my midlife
entrepreneurial crisis. The problem was, I
would have an idea but I would turn it into
a company too quickly. Ring, at the start,
was a way for me to see a delivery person at
the front door while I was in my garage. It
wasn’t changing anything. But I had to let
myself explore it.
Goals that are achievable are boring and
unsatisfying, because you just get there. It
should be tough to achieve great success.
I think if you want to achieve something
great, you should be challenged along the
way. That’s what gets me through rejection.
I was in the fortunate position—I mean this
semi-jokingly—where stopping work on
Ring would have meant financial death.
I was broke when I went on Shark Tank.
I drove there from my garage, went on the
show, drove back to the garage afterward,
and went back to work. I was a real American dreamer going on the show to get
money, and it was hugely disappointing.
The years 2015 to 2017 might have been the
Selina Tobaccowala co-founded
Evite when she was in college,
and, after selling it to IAC, took
on senior roles at Ticketmaster. But
then she met her mentor in Dave
Goldberg, the CEO of SurveyMonkey, and she became that firm’s
president and CTO. His sudden
death in May 2015 prompted her to
get more active—and start a company to help others do the same.
—AS TOLD TO YASMIN GAGNÉ
Dave Goldberg was one of the
people who recruited me to
SurveyMonkey. I immediately
saw that he was someone I could
learn a lot from. He came out to
London to meet me, and I then
interviewed at the firm’s o;ces
in Silicon Valley. When I landed
back in the U.K., I had an email
o;er from the company. I also
realized I was pregnant with my
I told him I wanted more equity,
I couldn’t start for another three
months—and that I was pregnant. Dave replied that he
wanted to build a highly profitable business that also had a
very strong family culture.
When I saw his response, I
immediately thought, “This is
the guy I want to work for.”
I learned so much from Dave.
We were able to take the business
from $20 million to $200 million
in just about six years while still
having a culture that was family-friendly. He left the o;ce every
day at 5: 55 so he could have
dinner and spend time with
his kids—you could reach him
between 6 and 8 only in an emergency. He was an amazing leader
and an amazing father.
When he passed away, he was
only 47 years old, and had two
young children. I have two
young children, and I want to be
around for them for a long time.
I’ve never been fit. In high
school, I was named captain of
the basketball team, but that was
because I’d built a stats program
that helped them win. At SurveyMonkey, my only exercise was
walking from my car to the train
station. But I realized I wanted
to build a business that would
help people lead healthy life-styles. Even a little physical
activity can have a huge impact
on your health. I started making
small changes, like taking the
stairs. I was thinking about how
Netflix delivers movies, and
wanted to give people access to
fitness in a similar way. I left
SurveyMonkey in April 2016. I
took a week o; to spend with
my kids—they were on spring
break—and then I went straight
back to work. Gixo was incorporated that April 29.
My research told me that the
people who stick with fitness
routines often go to classes. But
classes can be una;ordable or
intimidating, and a lot of people
also live too far away or can’t fit
classes into their schedules.
That’s why my Evite co-founder
Al Lieb and I created Gixo. Its
app gives people on-demand and
live fitness classes through their
phones. Some of the classes are
only 15 minutes, so it’s good even
for people who are really busy.
One of our users is a busy working mom, like me, who couldn’t
find time to fit fitness into her
routine until she found our app
on i Tunes. Now she can, and
even works out on the sideline
of her kids’ sports games.
When someone close to you
passes away, it can inspire you
to make a change. I realized I
needed to change my fitness
level so I could be there for my
kids. My dream is to change
global activity rates and help
people get healthier. But I also
want to build a profitable business that has the family culture
I saw at SurveyMonkey.
JAMIE SIMINOFF/RING HOW LOSING ON SHARKTANK FORCED ME TO SUCCEED