‘I Told You It Was a Great Idea’

Stephen Spinelli and Jamie Siminoff

This week’s Regional Centennial Reception was “ringing” with excitement. Hosted by Jamie Siminoff ’99, founder of Ring, and President-elect Stephen Spinelli, Jr. MBA ‘92, PhD, founder of Jiffy Lube, the reception was the sixth in a yearlong series of celebrations held around the world for Babson’s 100th anniversary.

“I’m here to report to you, our shareholders, that your degree is worth more today than the day you graduated,” shared Spinelli. “The work we’re doing is astonishing. Be proud knowing that we’ve elevated both the study of business and entrepreneurship to a whole new level. And, that entrepreneurship is needed more today than ever before.”

In clear agreement, the more than 80 alumni, students, parents, and friends in attendance cheered, listening intently to their two beloved Babson co-hosts in a courtyard at Ring’s Los Angeles headquarters.

When They Come Knocking

Jamie Siminoff and Stephen Spinelli have a long history that dates to the mid-1990s when Siminoff was a young Babson student, and Spinelli a professor and mentor.

Their relationship remained strong. Years after graduation, Siminoff went to Spinelli to tell him about his video doorbell idea.

“Now, I like every idea,” said Spinelli. But, as a professor at heart, he had to ask the hard-hitting questions.

“Jamie, do you have proprietary technology?” The answer was “No.” “What about recurring revenues?” Again, “Not yet.” “A supply chain in place?” Unabashed, Jamie said, “Not even close.”

Though he thought it was a “really bad idea,” Spinelli became one of the company’s first investors because Siminoff was passionate, excited, and, well, a Babson friend.

Siminoff closed the deal by being blunt: “Steve, I apologize, but I didn’t come here for your advice. I came here for your money.”

In early 2018, Ring was acquired by Amazon for more than $1 billion—the second-largest Amazon acquisition after Whole Foods.

Siminoff called Spinelli after leaving Jeff Bezos’ office to tell him what just happened. Spinelli’s response? “I told you it was a great idea!”

In 2016, Siminoff was recognized by Babson as a Rising Star and has continued to be a featured speaker at Babson events.

According to “Shark Tank,” Siminoff’s is the billion-dollar idea that got away. Just a few years after they missed the boat on Ring, and shortly after Amazon realized its value, the show invited Siminoff back as a guest shark.

The Babson Network: Better Together

Looking around the space, Siminoff pointed out fellow alumni, quickly naming Ring employees, friends … even team members from his first-year Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME) course.

Karni Baghdikian ’99 fits all three of these descriptors. From FME to leading global production at Ring, “we’ve literally done everything together,” said Siminoff.

To Spinelli, that’s the embodiment of Babson. Students “learn deeply in the classroom, then collide with the marketplace,” and with one another in shared interests.

“Babson students are truly amazing, and when you put them in teams, it is really something special,” he said.

Babson heads to San Francisco next and has plans in the works for alumni in Atlanta, Panama City, Istanbul, Tokyo, Mumbai, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Santiago, and Bogotá.

Interested in being a part of upcoming celebrations? Email the Centennial Office.

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