Last week Bloomberg published a “Silicon Valley’s $400 Juicer May Be Feeling the Squeeze“. Overnight, Juicero, a Silicon Valley start-up with major backing, went from the next big thing in tech to a lesson to other hardware startups.
Bloomberg’s article was a devastating how-to video showing a simple “hack” that completely removed the need for the press itself.
The $699 Press was always an expensive investment for any would-be juicer – but it was designed to be essential to squeezing out the subscription packs the company would supply.
The problem was – as Bloomberg demonstrated in their video – you can just as easily do this with your hands.
The company had been able to raise over $120M (from well-known investors) before shipping a single unit. The team had spent over two years building the Press, and the supply chain to feed it ( building up relationships with farmers, co-packing/food-processing facilities, complex custom packaging and even creating a gorgeous mobile/web app to power its subscription service ).
Juicero had done all this before shipping a single unit.
The question we had to ask was just why was the Juicero’s Press so Expensive?
Product designer, Ben Einstein (a founder partner at @BoltVC) beautifully written tear-down of the Press provides a few anwsers.
While it’s hard to know exactly why the Press is designed as it is, there are several signs that the designers/engineers “went wild” (as my college shop instructor would often say).
Ben believes the companies misstep was simple – the juicers need for a huge force to press the packs across the entire surface at once.
Applying a smaller force in a more focused way would have saved hundreds of dollars off the shelf price of the product.
The good example of how you could accomplish this would be to imagine a human hand squeezing a pack. The tips of the fingers create a large amount of pressure because they have a much smaller surface area.
Of course, the problem, is the moment you realise this, the juicer itself becomes unnecessary.
Imagine a world where Juicero raised only $10M and built a product subject to significant constraints. Maybe the Press wouldn’t be so perfectly engineered but it might have a fewer features and cost a fraction of the original $699… But since that’s not the case, I’ll continue to admire my Juicero in this state of beauty:
Ben’s tear-down offers a great deal of insight into how engineering can go wrong – the product might be perfectly engineered but it ended up being too expensive for their target demographic and ended overlooking the core assumptions of its actual customers.
Read the full article @ blog.bolt.io