What happened to Juicero?

Juicero was a manufacturer of juicing machines founded by Doug Evans in 2013. The Juicero Press was overpriced at launch and only squeezed juice from branded, pre-packaged food and vegetable sachets. Juicero’s flagship product was rendered obsolete after Bloomberg News reported that juice of similar quality and quantity could be obtained by hand-squeezing. Juicero machines were also needlessly complex, with Evans taking design and engineering cues from Apple. This is a great example of a good idea, killed by bad execution.

Background

Juicero was a manufacturer of fruit and vegetable juicing machines. The company was founded by Doug Evans in 2013.

The flagship Juicero Press used single-serve packets of diced fruits and vegetables sold to consumers on a subscription basis. Each Juicero Press also offered Wi-Fi connectivity.

Juicero claimed its machines and smart packaging helped consumers eat more healthily, but the company was embroiled in controversy seemingly from day one.

So what happened to Juicero? Following is a look at the intriguing story of yet another tech start-up collapsing after receiving substantial investor funding.

The Juicero Press

When the Juicero Press was first released in 2016, it was priced at $699. The price was then reduced to $399 early in 2017 after abysmal sales. 

Each pre-packaged serving of fruit and vegetable had a QR code that needed to be scanned and verified by the juicer while connected to the internet. Former CEO Jeff Dunn argued that this prevented produce from being used past its expiration date, but consumers saw the measure as prohibiting them from juicing their own fruit and vegetables.

The Juicero Press was thus expensive to purchase and also to use, with fruit and vegetable packs typically costing between $5-$7.

Bloomberg controversy

The Juicero Press suffered further criticism in 2017 after Bloomberg News published a story implying the proprietary produce packs could be squeezed by hand.

Not only could they be squeezed by hand, but the resultant juice was comparable in quality and quantity to juice produced from the $399 machine. The company jumped to the defense of the Juicero Press, claiming that squeezing by hand created a mess and detracted from the user experience. 

Nevertheless, it offered a refund to disgruntled customers and no doubt suffered further reputational damage.

Over-engineering

Venture capitalist Ben Einstein disassembled his juicer and noted it was “an incredibly complicated piece of engineering” for a fundamentally simple process. The internal elements of the juicer were assembled with great attention to detail and a polymer used for white components underwent 8 separate revisions before acceptance. 

Raising nearly $120 million before shipping a single product, the Juicero product design team was unconstrained by money or time. They were also under the guidance of Evans, who had worked with Jobs in a previous life and considered him to be a major design inspiration.

Ceasing operations

By June of 2017, Juicero had terminated 25% of its workforce and was making a 4 million dollar loss each month.

On September 1, 2017, Juicero announced it would be ceasing operations and suspending sales of the Juicero Press after only 16 months on sale.

Aside from its flagship product being too expensive and not solving a genuine problem, distribution was also underdeveloped. Announcing the shutdown, the company noted that it “became clear that creating an effective manufacturing and distribution system for a nationwide customer base requires infrastructure that we cannot achieve on our own as a standalone business.

Key takeaways:

  • Juicero was a manufacturer of juicing machines founded by Doug Evans in 2013. The Juicero Press was overpriced at launch and only squeezed juice from branded, pre-packaged food and vegetable sachets.
  • Juicero’s flagship product was rendered obsolete after Bloomberg News reported that juice of similar quality and quantity could be obtained by hand-squeezing.
  • Juicero machines were also needlessly complex, with Evans taking design and engineering cues from Apple. Ultimately, the Juicero Press was too expensive and did not address a significant consumer problem. If it had sold in any great quantity, it would also have been hampered by a weak distribution network.

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