There are pivotal moments in life, moments that change where your life will ultimately end up. Meeting Jamie Siminoff in 2008 was one of these moments for me. Jamie would go on to be my mentor, our first enterprise customer at TaskUs with Phonetag and a close personal friend. Jamie Siminoff’s story is just about the most insane tale of entrepreneurship I’ve heard…
With over $100,000 raised on Kickstarter and write-ups in TechCrunch, Mashable and Engadget, you’d assume that POP was on its way to success. POP (short for Point Of Power) is the invention of Jamie Siminoff: a sleek, portable charging station that can charge multiple iPhones, iPads and and mini-USB devices. Jamie came up with the idea while on vacation with his family, where he dealt with the ever increasing problem of having to recharge cell phones and tablets while at the pool or beach (life’s tough). He designed a prototype, put it up on kickstarter and raised over $100,000 in less than a month.
But that was back when Apple only had one power cord, the 30 pin cords found on the iPhone 4s and previous generations (remember those?). Then came the iPhone 5, which subsequently introduced the Lightning charger. As a determined entrepreneur and inventor, Jamie couldn’t be deterred. He came up with a prototype that offered both Lightning, 30 pin and mini-USB. All was well, right? Nope. It is never that easy with Apple, which is a company that prides themselves on their ability to restrict (oops, meant “protect”) their end-to-end user experience. Adversity reared its ugly head as Apple delayed approval of POP, citing a policy that would not allow their Lightning adapter to be carried on any device with other power adapters, including their own 30 pin charger (yes, really).
In an effort to protect the collective interest of his customers, Jamie decided to not wait for Apple’s seemingly endless review process to conclude. Instead, he decided to protect the interest of his initial buyers/crowdfunders and promptly refund them for a product that might never see the light of day. However, he soon learned that KickStarter didn’t have a way to offer refunds (serenity now, Costanza reference). So he started a crowdfunding site called Christie Street, where he offered to refund all of the buyers (and seed a successful crowdfunding community in the process)! He wrote his community an email, and that is when the outrage began. Tweets, Facebook posts, angry emails all reaming Apple. Wired even did a piece, complete with a great retro dead Mac graphic.
And then only 24 hours later…Apple came out and changed their policy. Yes, really! The impossible happened. Apple approved the POP for production. Jamie’s relentlessness built POP, Christie Street, and got Apple to reverse their policy so that we can all enjoy fully charged iPhone 5’s, iPad 2’s and even the sometimes forgotten Blackberry’s, while tanning. Many minds – far smarter than me – have spent a considerable amount of time determining what the recipe is for a successful inventor. I can’t say with certainty that I know the magical equation that yields a Gates or a Jobs, but I do know one ingredient that is required in mass quantity: drive. Jamie Siminoff could be the federal reserve for drive. This much I know.