For those of us who work with the IoT every day, it’s rather a twisted pleasure to see IoT featured on a popular investment TV show, as Toymail was on the February 18 episode of Shark Tank.

Congratulations to Toymail CEO, and long-time Electric Imp customer, Gauri Nanda for impressing the Shark Tank judges. She stirred up a bidding war between Mark Cuban and the Shark investor team of Chris Sacca and Lori Greiner, increasing her valuation and investment accordingly.

Success is often built on execution but it also requires differentiation and, ultimately, focus. Since the Talkies are the second-generation product Toymail has built on the Electric Imp platform, we’ve had the rare opportunity to watch as Gauri and her team have made some tough choices. Important examples include:

Worry about the product, not the connectivity

The appeal of the Talkies is great marketing and product design. The toys are unique, memorable and differentiated. The Talkies are not just another product connected by WiFi, or a walkie talkie, or even a mobile phone. Any of these could leave voice messages. It’s the unique mix of a plush toy with doll-like responses and games combined with parental controls that make the messages so attractive. Having a platform like Electric Imp’s that addresses the complexities of application development, WiFi idiosyncrasies and security, enables Toymail to focus on their business of making great toys — not on handling the details of connectivity.

Time to market is everything

The Shark Tank investors were quick to push Gauri to scale Toymail to millions of devices, expanding distribution needs accordingly. Gauri also mentioned that she plans to extend the product line and create new features for existing toys. By building their product on a robust yet flexible and developer-friendly connectivity platform, her team don’t need to worry about the challenges that scaling IoT products entails. Instead, Toymail can focus on adding new value-add features to their products. They can even add new features to products already sold with over-the-air (OTA) updates. This keeps the toys fresh and relevant.

Create something rugged enough to work in the real-world

One of the great selling points that Gauri illustrated is how rugged the Talkies can be. You shake to make them laugh, toss them, hold them tight. Anyone who has a child knows how much punishment kids’ electronics need to be able to take. From an IoT perspective, we’ve seen that rugged “industrial strength” extended to industrial, commercial and home devices deployed in 105 countries.

Toymail’s appeal to the Shark Tank demonstrates business savvy and great promotion. Although Electric Imp focuses on commercial and industrial IoT deployments, it’s nice to see our products used in a fun way. We’re pleased to be there to help Toymail deliver products that work in the real world, not just on reality TV.

Oh, and don’t forget to buy your Talkie now direct from Toymail.

Carol Schmitt

Head of Product Marketing

Electric Imp