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Businesses The Almighty Buck

Juicero, Maker of the Infamous $400 Juicer, Is Shutting Down (fortune.com) 200

Beth Kowitt, reporting for Fortune: Juicero has run out of juice. The San Francisco-based maker of counter-top cold-press juicers said today that it is shutting down operations and suspending the sale of its presses and produce packs immediately. The announcement on the company's website comes after the startup said in July that it was undergoing a "strategic shift" to more quickly lower the cost of its $399 juicers and $5-7 juice packs filled with raw fruits and vegetables. As part of the shift, the company said then that it would lay off about a quarter of its staff. At the time, Juicero CEO Jeff Dunn wrote in a letter to employees obtained by Fortune that the current prices were "not a realistic way for us to fulfill our mission at the scale to which we aspire." But Juicero realized it couldn't bring down the cost of its products as a standalone company. It was too small to achieve the required economies of scale on its own. The company will now focus on finding a buyer, it wrote in Friday's blog post. From an article in April: After the product hit the market, some investors were surprised to discover a much cheaper alternative: You can squeeze the Juicero bags with your bare hands.
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Juicero, Maker of the Infamous $400 Juicer, Is Shutting Down

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  • it was a scam (Score:5, Informative)

    by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @01:53PM (#55124747) Homepage
    The juicer was nothing more than a cpu and a stepper motor that wrung out a sack of pre shredded vegetables into a glass. Investors immediately called this out, which is likely why juicero isnt around anymore. Not to mention the device was only compatible with DRM juice bags pre-purchased at $40 per week.
    complete hardware teardown available here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
    • Re:it was a scam (Score:5, Insightful)

      by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @02:16PM (#55124961)

      I don't think it was a scam per se, the people running the company are just idiots. Selling bags of pre-crushed fruit and vegetable juice is great if they can do it efficiently and cheaply, there was no reason to tack on some $400 machine to remove the juice from the bag. Or, make the machine a $20 add-on to buying the juice if you really want a machine to do it for you, it really doesn't need to be a complex machine and there's certainly no reason to restrict it to only work with a single brand of bag, that makes it less useful. They shot themselves in the foot by making the machine their primary product instead of the juice. It's just short-sightedness, they didn't even realize what their product was.

      • It's just short-sightedness, they didn't even realize what their product was.

        Presumably they knew how to make the machine that they made, but didn't know how to cost-effectively package shredded fruit. You really have to be able to make money on both ends if you're not tying the razor to the blades.

        • Re:it was a scam (Score:5, Insightful)

          by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @03:10PM (#55125427)

          Honestly, the machine they made was a case study in how not to design a consumer machine. It was seriously over-engineered and therefore overpriced all by itself.

          • Honestly, the machine they made was a case study in how not to design a consumer machine. It was seriously over-engineered and therefore overpriced all by itself.

            Make something too cheap, and people are convinced it's not worth buying. Make something expensive and too crappy, and you really are a scammer. But maybe there are particulars you're not communicating here.

            • I wasn't saying (and I don't believe) that they're scammers*. I think that they designed a product for a market that only existed in their imaginations.

              * The part the could be considered scammy was the internet connectivity, which I believe only existed in order to be able to get funding from SV. Nobody would have given them big investment money if what they made was a juicer. An Internet-connected device, however, that's a different story, so they made it internet connected even though doing so added liter

            • You're begging for an Apple joke, you know that, right?

            • The key is to add metal weights. Many products do this to give the "heft of quality" for pennies of metal.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            It's an iPhone.

            The machine was a shiny toy, designed to be desirable and get people to buy into their overpriced ecosystem. They sold it at a loss, hoping to make money on the juice bag subscriptions. Break even was probably around a year.

        • Presumably they knew how to make the machine that they made, but didn't know how to cost-effectively package shredded fruit.

          No, the best guess is that they outsourced the design of the machine to an engineering company, and did a poor job of that. It seems unlikely the machine cost less than what they were selling it for and most likely much more.

          The machine has a crazy design.

          • by DMFNR ( 1986182 )
            From what I've read they pretty much just gave a blank check to Yves Béhar's studio and built exactly what they got back without stopping for a second to attempt to even consider whether the design could be produced at a reasonable cost.
      • Re:it was a scam (Score:5, Interesting)

        by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @03:54PM (#55125817) Journal

        I don't think it was a scam per se, the people running the company are just idiots.

        I imagine that they thought they could be the juice version of Keurig.

        • The thing is k-cups are about 60 cents per serving. That is cheaper than popping down the coffee shop. Yes it's expensive compared to bulk coffee but k-cups let you conveniently keep a variety of hot drinks available.

          Juicero on the other hand seemed to start at about $6 per serving. That is just way too high.

          • I didn't say that they could have been the juice version of Keurig, just that they thought they could be.

          • by arth1 ( 260657 )

            Coffee has to be heated. Keurig has a market because it adds convenience compared to other filter makers.
            Juice, on the other hand, can be kept chilled in the fridge. There's no extra convenience over just pouring yourself a glass, and actually a heck of a lot more inconvenience.

        • Not at all. If they were the juice version of the Keurig then they would be in this mess. There's nothing over priced about Keurig machines and the machines aren't the primary product. These idiots ran their company in the opposite way.

      • Selling bags of pre-crushed fruit and vegetable juice is great if they can do it efficiently and cheaply, there was no reason to tack on some $400 machine to remove the juice from the bag.

        Doesn't bottled juice already solve this problem? One of the people involved with Juicero was even from Bolthouse Farms.

      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        Or engineer the packs so they cannot reasonably be squeezed by hand.

        Nothing is easier than eating more veggies. You just eat more veggies. But I think we've reached -- or at least are approaching -- a tipping point where food in its unpackaged state is no longer perceived by many people as food.

    • by halivar ( 535827 )

      I didn't know I needed that video in my life, but I did. It's redneck zen.

    • by Pascoea ( 968200 )
      Yes! An AVE\Boltr link! That channel is 100% gold. Many many many hours spent laughing my balls off.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by llZENll ( 545605 )

      It is a cpu and stepper motor, but an insanely awesomely built one! If you watch the video you posted you will see, there are massive solid steel worm drives, gears, and bearings (many custom for this piece). The press plate is a giant 1"+ thick solid piece of CNC machined aluminum, it honestly looks like you could crush small car pieces with this thing, the marketing of how powerful it is seems like it could be true. The tear down guy obviously knows his stuff, and is very impressed with it, he said it

      • In other words it was massively over engineered by a first grade engineer.

        If you only need 20g/cm2 to squeeze the juice but you build something that applies 4T/cm2 you're just wasting energy.

        • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

          It looks like you need around 10kg/cm2 to squeeze juice.
          The idiocy of the machine is that it achieves this kind of pressure by squeezing the whole pack at once, which indeed requires 4 tons of force. A smarter design would squeeze the pack bit by bit and achieve high pressure by applying moderate force on a small area.
          And that's indeed what happens when you press the pack by hand. Your hand can only produce maybe 30kg of force but it is applied only on your fingertips. The result is a pressure similar to th

    • The hardware is so awesome, this is great news! I'm hoping to pick some up super-cheap and build a giant robot chef out of them!

    • If you have anything planned in the next 10 hours, don't start watching this Youtube video!

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @01:54PM (#55124759) Homepage Journal

    Actually, juice is highly correlated with diabetes if done to excess.

    Vegetable juices are fine, but fruit juicers can lead to substantial increases in both pre-diabetes and adult onset diabetes, if not part of a varied diet.

    And having robots take away the exercise of squeezing it is just making it worse. Calories need to be burned somehow.

  • I earn $55k in Government IT support in Silicon Valley. $399 seems like a lot to me. I can go to Costco and get juice for $1.
  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @02:17PM (#55124963)
    The appliance was trying squeezing the juice out of customers using some bizzare combination of the pricing model of printer toner combined with a predatory monthly app subscription and a keurig. Not sure who the hell thought people would actually swallow this. At least do something novel like having the machine hold 30 different packets and custom order a drink. As it is it was an outright money grabbing scam.
    • by qvatch ( 576224 )
      yeah, it couldn't even make avacado toast.
      • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )
        You make fun of avocado toast, but the ones I had were pretty decent snacks. They each consist of a sunny-side-up egg and a piece of toast, held together with avocado paste and some garnish on top. For $5, it's not that expensive. Breakfast in SF generally starts at $10.
    • It was a stupid and obvious scam to me but then so are many other very successful products. Based on performance of past results, I'm actually surprised it didn't work. Maybe they failed to use the right buzzword formula in their marketing pitch. Maybe they failed to simply grease the right palms. Now I guess we'll never know. But I can tell you one thing for sure; much better thought out, more worthy ideas have completely failed to get any investment at all, but somehow this type of usurious crap keep

    • combination of the pricing model of printer toner combined with a predatory monthly app subscription and a keurig.

      Not sure who the hell thought people would actually swallow this.

      Probably some people who saw the success of the market model of inkjet printers, Netflix, and Keurig.

    • Even if the machine had 30 different packets and custom drinks, it's not innovative. That's what Coca Cola Freestyle [wikipedia.org] does, and it has a lot more than 30. I'd be surprised if Coke didn't have some patents they'd be violating.

  • by Drunkulus ( 920976 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @02:32PM (#55125091)
    We all thought Juicero would redefine the paradigm of disruption. Some people said it was as dumb as Snapchat or Bitcoin, and maybe they were right, but it's still just a tragic loss for all those visionary investors.
  • And nothing of value was lost.

    I mean, look at the damn thing. Clearly, this was designed to piggyback on the market that Kuerig is exploiting. The difference is, the Kuerigs (or at least the older models) don't have DRM, don't require Kuerig branded cups, and can do more than coffee. I've seen tea and cocoa K-cups, because basically, the operation is the same - run hot water over contents of K-cup.

    This damn thing had a much more limited run of choices, there were no outside brands you could use with it, and

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @03:37PM (#55125667) Journal

    https://www.crunchbase.com/org... [crunchbase.com]

    Burning through $150 million in funding since 2013 ($88000 per DAY including weekends), they might as well have been juicing actual money.

    • If you think that is a big number for a manufacturer of both equipment and associated consumables all while struggling to expand your market then your in for a surprise of you ever go into business.

      • No of course it isn't.

        But if you somehow think that's the place you *should be starting at* with a brand-new idea, brand-new tech, brand-new market, and entirely unproven business model, BEFORE YOU'VE SOLD A SINGLE DEVICE? Well - I guess your investors are either ridiculously optimistic or you're one persuasive son of a bitch.

        • brand-new idea

          It's not.

          brand-new tech

          There is no tech.

          entirely unproven business model

          It's not. Quite the opposite actually, it's a business model that has not only proven itself but has been very lucrative in all the other markets.

          brand-new market

          You may notice I changed the order of my responses and that's because this one here is very relevant. This is a brand new market. However the business model is highly reliant on the first mover principles. It is also dependent on market saturation to make it economical. It's not a model you can try in some idle corner especially if some o

  • The issue with Juicero, as with so many areas where people work on something that is their passion (whether food, music, art, coffee, wine) is that they start to forget that the effort they put into it does not necessarily translate into how much other people value it, or how much people are willing to pay for it.

    You get people who think that because they slaved away for hours on a painting, essay, cup of coffee or artisinal x,y,z, etc means that they can charge big $$ for it.

    If that were true, history
  • by careysub ( 976506 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @04:10PM (#55125911)

    Can I buy a Juicero on eBay for $50 (shipping included) yet? There are probably things I need to crush, now I'll be set. (Yeah I know I'll have to Arduino the controller.) Yes, I see people trying to recoup their losses by offering their ill-advised purchase for $180 (and up) starting bids on eBay.

    But this guy has the right idea selling a "Juicero 2.0" [ebay.com], a hand cranked roller press, which he says (no doubt truthfully) is twice as fast as a Juicero, and costs only $150.

  • TAM for decent fruit/veg juice probably 90% western world.

    SAM for this product considering initial outlay and consumables pricing... I doubt it's 1% of all households and businesses.

  • by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @05:52PM (#55126453)

    "You can squeeze the Juicero bags with your bare hands."

    Which makes for a very expensive $5-$7 cup of juice.

    46 oz of V-8 Original is only $2.84.

  • The question is, which MOFI would get a Juicero first?
    The one in Sweden https://idle.slashdot.org/stor... [slashdot.org]
    Or the one in Austria http://nation.com.pk/entertain... [nation.com.pk] ?
  • Every entrepreneur who is struggling to get funding for their idea and/or product cringes whenever we see stuff like this. It just goes to show you that it is often not the merit of the actual idea that attracts the funding. There are at least a thousand ideas out there that are 10x better than the one behind the Juicero; yet each of those will struggle to find even $1M in funding, let alone $120M.

    I have a project that I have been working on for years now. I think it is great and has huge potential, yet be

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