Mr. Beams Has Had A Wild Ride In Cleveland

A little more than a month ago, local LED lighting company Mr. Beams was acquired by fast-growing California home security startup Ring. At the time, it seemed like an ideal finale for an awesome startup, led by two great co-founders in David Levine and Michael Recker.

Only it wasn’t the finale.

Turns out, the culmination of this startup story came on Feb. 27, when announced it was acquiring Ring in a massive deal estimated to be worth more than $1 billion, giving Mr. Beams’ innovative LED lighting technology — developed right here in Cleveland — a home at one of the world’s largest retailers.

Just as it made sense for Ring to acquire Mr. Beams, it also makes perfect sense for Amazon to acquire Ring. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, already owns one of Ring’s primary competitors, Nest Labs; and, as one national source covering the dealpointed out, this may not be a play solely for the smart-home and security markets — it could also help Amazon in its long-term goal of enabling easy delivery of packages inside homes.

Other sources are also projecting Amazon will keep Ring’s brand and operating structure largely intact, as they have done in past acquisitions such as Audible and Zappos. That would be more good news for our region, since Ring had already announced its intention to keep Mr. Beams and their product line as a separate division — known as RingBeams — in Northeast Ohio.

Partnering with Amazon and other retailers to sell their innovative products was one of Mr. Beams’ pillars of growth over the last decade, alongside the steps they took to protect their valuable intellectual property.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to work with Levine, Recker and their team during this time could sense good things were in store for Mr. Beams. When the company was acquired by Ring, we talked about how they had spent the last decade growing patiently by using their capital efficiently — they raised only $1.1 million in total funding — building a small but mighty team and focusing on customer traction.

But if their steady climb to prominence was a great Midwestern growth story — their rapid exit has been a textbook example of just how fast things move in the startup world once the momentum has built and all the pieces finally fall into place.

It took years of work for Mr. Beams to get themselves in the right position, but once they were there, things escalated quickly. In fact, Ring announced their acquisition of the company a mere six months after founder Jamie Smirnoff first visited their Cleveland headquarters during the 2017 NBA Finals.

Now, a month after that acquisition, the Mr. Beams team is part of the world’s biggest online retailer.

It can happen that fast.

It’s enough to make your head spin. It’s also more proof globally relevant startups can come from anywhere, and you can spend 10 years growing your company smartly and efficiently and end up with a truly world-class outcome.

This post originally appeared in Crain’s Cleveland Business on March 4, 2018.

Posted in Thought Leadership