Cleveland-area entrepreneurs David Levine and Michael Recker have received plenty of accolades for the Mr. Beams battery-operated, motion-sensing lights they first introduced more than a decade ago.
But perhaps the greatest validation came Tuesday afternoon, when Reuters reported that their business will soon be part of Amazon, the giant online seller of just about everything, and a major contributor to Mr. Beams' early success.
Reuters reported that Amazon, in a deal valued at more than $1 billion, is expected to acquire Ring Inc., a California-based home security company that announced in January that it had purchased Mr. Beams for an undisclosed price.
"Ring home security products and services have delighted customers since day," Amazon said in written statement. "We're excited to work with this talented team and help them in their mission to keep homes safe and secure."
The deal is perhaps the crowning milestone for two men whose original intention was to simply provide a light for a closet that had no wires, and for Levine, what had become an emotional quest after his grandmother fell and broke her hip one night because she did not want to turn on a light.
"Allowing people to prevent falls and live more safely for longer In their homes has been a driving force for the Mr. Beams line since then," Levine told cleveland.com videographer Zachariah Durr in January after the sale to Ring was announced.
It's also a source of pride and promotion for JumpStart, the Cleveland business-booster that was one of Mr. Beams early investors.
JumpStart Chief Executive Officer Ray Leach recently held up Mr. Beams alongside other local startups, such as CoverMyMeds and CardioInsight, that JumpStart aided and were later acquired be larger companies.
"In many ways, Mr. Beams is a model for using the advantages of a Midwestern base to build a tech company," Leach wrote on crainscleveland.com in early February. "Levine and his team envisioned how an industry could change with new technology - in their case LEDs - but they also stayed patient, focusing on being efficient with their funding, and gaining popularity by making great products with a great team and letting their customers tell their story."
And it wasn't always easy.
"Starting a business is really uncomfortable and you have to learn to live with that," Levine told Durr. " . . . . There were days when I was very pessimistic about our chances."
But Levine and Recker had faith in their ideas and their products.
"If you're solving problems that people have and you're doing it in an innovative way and you're thinking it through, it takes away a lot of that discomfort," Levine told Durr.
As alluded to on the Mr. Beams website, the company has done for lighting what the laptop has done for the computer, taken it off the electrical grid. And that has been a big selling point, going all the way back to the early days when a New York Times blogger had this to say about Mr. Beams in 2011.
"Mr. Beams is a wireless emergency light kit intended to protect you in the case of a power failure. A small remote control/flashlight plugs into any spare outlet and monitors the power," the blogger states. "When the power lines go down, the remote signals for the other Mr. Beams devices in the house to light up, thereby giving you a few hours of bright LED light while you wait for the end of the ice storm."
Mr. Beams, which makes a slew of products and holds a number of patents, has benefited over the years from positive reviews in prominent publications, including The New York Times, USA Today, Better Homes & Gardens and The Wall Street Journal.
A 2015 "The Fixer" column in the Wall Street Journal dubbed its motion-sensing closet light as "The Best Battery-Powered Light to Install in a Closet."
It then stated, "Superior light quality, impressive battery life and a handy motion sensor make the Mr. Beams Ceiling Light really shine."
The company's products became a top seller on Amazon, according to a Crain's Cleveland article from 2015, and later could be found in Home Depot and Target stores. That's despite Chinese copycats attempting to cut into Mr. Beams' business.
The company's sales have grown from $10.2 million in 2014 to more than $25 million in 2017.
When Ring, which is known for its doorbell, announced its purchase of Mr. Beams, it said the acquisition would allow for the introduction of new outdoor security products called Ring Beams that will include spotlights, pathway lights and deck lights.
"David, Mike and whole Mr. Beams team have built a strong business and created a line of impressive technologies and patents around what we believe is the future of outdoor security lighting," Jamie Smirnoff, founder and chief inventor of Ring, said in a news release in January. "This, coupled with our shared commitment to reducing crimes in neighborhoods, makes Mr. Beams a perfect fit for Ring."
The announcement said that Mr. Beams would continue operating as an independent division of Ring.
After the news broke that Amazon was now buying Ring, Ring issued this statement.
"Ring is committed to our mission to reduce crime in neighborhoods by providing effective yet affordable home security tools to our Neighbors that make a positive impact on our homes, our communities, and the world. We'll be able to achieve even more by partnerging with an inventiv, customer-centric company like Amazon. We look forward to being a part of the Amazon team as we work toward our vision for safer neighborhoods."
Levine and Recker were friends before they were business partners, having first met at a Baltimore Orioles baseball game in 992, according to their online profiles at mrbeams.com. Levine would specialize in the tool business, serving as senior product manager for Black & Decker and then DeWalt, before starting his own business, Home Products, in 2000 that featured the "first miniature powered screwdriver," his profile states.
Recker's background is in wireless technology, having worked for Telogy Networks and having been the "lead hardware architect on a variety of solutions for the mobile Internet for Ericsson," according to his profile. He also started a public wireless Internet provider called AirRover Networks.
The two men started Wireless Environment, the parent company of Mr. Beams, and introduced their first products in 2006. A little more than a decade later, they hit it big with the sale to Ring.
The price Ring paid for Mr. Beans was not released, but investors received a "big return," Levine told crainscleveland.com at the time.