The Hustle

Forget smartphones, this 'Staten Island Hustle' star invested $200,000 in a 'dumb' phone

Forget smartphones, this 'Staten Island Hustle' star invested $200,000 in a...

It's no secret consumers love smart phones: One report estimated there will be six billion of them by 2020. And, the market to sell those phones is dominated by giant companies like Apple, Samsung and Google.

But KidsConnect, a New Jersey-based business featured on CNBC's "Staten Island Hustle," is selling $129.95 "dumb phones" with only four buttons.

Dom Detore, a serial entrepreneur, general contractor and star of "Staten Island Hustle," saw the product's simplicity as an opportunity and invested $200,000 in the business, he tells CNBC.

"Staten Island Hustle" star Dom Detore
NBC Universal

Founder and CEO Michael Dean runs KidsConnect as a side-hustle when he's not working as a sales associate at Platinum Motors car dealership in New Jersey, according to the show.

That's fine by Detore, who has many side gigs himself: "[Dean's] office is in the back of a car dealership, but good ideas come from anywhere," he says on "Staten Island Hustle."

On the show, Dean says the phone is designed for children — users can't access social media, the phone can only be programmed to reach 20 cell phone numbers and there's an emergency button that will text the GPS location of the phone to speed dial contacts. Parents even can see their kid's real-time location by logging into an app or listen via voice monitoring.

What piqued Detore's interest about the product is the promise of recurring revenue. Dean explains on the show that the phone has to be purchased with a connectivity plan, ranging from $13 to $45 per month.

Unfortunately, when Detore tests the phone on his 11-year-old son Ronnie, the kid is not impressed.

"Does it have YouTube? Does it have apps?" Ronnie asks on the show. "I ain't taking it then."

But during a brainstorming session at Angelina's Ristorante, an Italian eatery in Staten Island, Detore and his "Staten Island Hustle" co-stars — Mike Palmer, DeCicco, LaCola and Ron Montana — have an idea. To raise sales, why not market the product to senior citizens as well as kids?

Dom and Janine Detore show their youngest son, Ronnie, a KidsConnect phone.
CNBC | Staten Island Hustle

"Seniors don't care about being uncool, seniors know they're uncool!" LaCola says on the show. "What they're more concerned with is their safety."

After testing it with some seniors in an Atlantic City casino on "Staten Island Hustle," it's a hit.

Now, Dean, whose business has so far brought in $390,000 in sales, is working with the "Staten Island Hustle" guys to create a new brand called EZ Phone around the same product, Detore tells CNBC. EZ Phone will be marketed toward senior citizens who need a simple, low-tech way to communicate.

As Detore says on the show: "Seniors are going to love it because it's so easy to work."

All new episodes of "Staten Island Hustle" air Wednesdays at 10P ET/PT on CNBC.

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This machine can recreate New York pizza and bagels across the country with one simple step

This story has been updated to reflect the correct name for KidsConnect's EZ Phone.

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