In March 2016, the former head of the Organic Avenue chain of organic food stores, Doug Evans, introduced Juicero, a smart juicer with built-in Wi-Fi. They were supposed to help “in achieving true health and longevity.”
The American startup attracted about $ 120 million, and the price of a home appliance reached $ 699, excluding branded mixes. A year later, according to journalists, Juicero came up with its Watergate : the media found that the juice squeezer itself was simply not needed to get the juice.
2013 – 2016: Idea and a promising start
The first generation Juicero juicers had built-in Wi-Fi, and they were controlled through a mobile application. They made drinks from fruit and vegetable mixes, but only worked with branded sachets with mixtures.
The owner secured the packaging in the compartment and pressed the button. Then, using the QR code on the back, the machine checked to see if the expiration date was exceeded. The fact is that the packaging was not completely vacuum: there was a small hole in each so that the “product breathed”. If the mixture was stored in the refrigerator for more than six days, the device refused to work.
Each one-time bag cost 5-8 dollars and turned into a glass with a volume of about 220 grams. If the customer did not have a Juicero juicer, he could not buy the branded blend. It was impossible to cut vegetables or fruits manually and load them into the device; water was not required to be added.
Business Insider emphasized that at the stated price, Juicero is a product for 1%, and not for those 90% who really need an affordable, healthy and convenient “source of fruits and vegetables”.
Despite this, the idea to combine a one-time sale of equipment and the need to purchase disposable packaging immediately attracted the business industry. In 2013, the then-secret startup received the first 4 million dollars of investments, in 2014 – 15.8 million dollars, in 2015 – another 100 million dollars.
Juicero has invested in including Campbell Soup, Google Ventures and Nest. The minimalist design was made by Yves Behar, who worked with Samsung, Jawbone, Swarowski and Prada. The project was even tied to Apple’s chief designer, Joni Ive, but Cupertino denied it.
The president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, tweeted about the juicer , it was advertised by the popular television presenter, Doctor Oz , and actress Gwyneth Paltrow. The latter, however, fell into scandal itself due to useless stickers for “balancing energy”.
“When you drink juice from Juicero, you come to life”, “It just blows your brain, because it is exclusively natural products”, “This is the most difficult business that I have ever started,” the creators and investors did not skimp on compliments until did not change the whole study.
April 2017: Disruption
Amid praise and high expectations, Wired editors were amazed : “How on earth can a juicer for $ 700 exist at all?” The Verge wrote that they had studied the Juicero website along and across, but did not understand why the machine needed a Wi-Fi connection.
Evans has repeatedly responded to criticism of the high cost, talking about the health benefits of the juicer, but ultimately lowered the price from $ 699 to $ 399. Bloomberg found out that it is not even worth the money.
American journalists conducted an experiment and showed that expensive Juicero equipment is not needed at all to squeeze juice out of a bag. It turned out that this can be done with bare hands. This method made it possible to squeeze the juice on average for the same time as the machine, and sometimes faster.
During the tests, the hands managed faster than the car. The reporter was able to squeeze out about 220 grams in 1.5 minutes. Machine – 226 grams in two minutes.from the Bloomberg experiment
According to Bloomberg, when two major Juicero investors found out about the discovery of journalists, they were stunned. One of the venture capitalists admitted: he wouldn’t even meet with Evans if he knew in advance that his juice packs did not require expensive equipment.
Sources of the publication noticed that Juicero did not focus on the “insignificant” details in the conversation with investors. Hotels and restaurants, which by that time often purchased company juice extractors, said that they liked the device, without even suspecting that it was useless.
The criticism that hit Juicero was answered by the company’s CEO and former Coca-Cola CEO Jeff Dunn. He did not deny that the juice can be squeezed out without using a machine, but warned that with his hands “it will turn out badly and have to tinker with it.”
Another Juicero investor, Doug Chertok, said he already knew about the possibility of opening the package manually, but still remained a “big fan” of the company. He assured that Juicero will soon become the “platform” for a new model for regular food delivery home.
Judging by the destroyed image of the company, Chertok’s forecast will not come true. The company immediately after the start of the scandal suggested that each client return the juicer within 30 days and promised full compensation.
July – September 2017: End
In July, Jeff Dunn sent a letter to employees telling him about a 25% reduction in staff, mainly in sales and marketing. The management recognized the company’s plans as “unrealistic” even with a machine price of $ 399, a package with a mixture of $ 5-7.
Juicero’s new plan included the creation of a second-generation juicer that would sell for less – at a price of around $ 200. But this idea, most likely, did not last long.
On September 1, Juicero announced the suspension of activities and sales of juicers. The company will deliver orders until September 10, and then will give another 90 days to the request for a refund: there will be no limit of 30 days after the purchase. According to Fortune, employees were notified that they had 60 days to work. The company did not disclose the number of devices sold.
Even before the failure of Juicero, Evans believed that he was making an IT company, and compared himself with Apple founder Steve Jobs, at least in terms of approach to the product and obsession with the idea. As Vox noted , the idea of Juicero is stupid, but even stupid ideas sometimes work.