Juicero is a San Francisco based startup focused on organic juices with more than 100 MM USD investment. It sells juices packed in sacks which can be squeezed by their 400 USD wifi and app connected machine called The Press. Problem arose when Bloomberg published a video claiming that 400 USD The Press is not necessary. Most of the other media followed in criticism (example). Eventually, new CEO of Juicero, Jeff Dunn, tried to explain how The Press ads value to the product (full article):
1) The first closed loop food safety system that allows us to remotely disable Produce Packs if there is, for example, a spinach recall. In these scenarios, we’re able to protect our consumers in real-time.
2) Consistent pressing of our Produce Packs calibrated by flavor to deliver the best combination of taste and nutrition every time.
3) Connected data so we can manage a very tight supply chain, because our product is live, raw produce, and has a limited lifespan of about 8 days.
His pitch did not help.
In spite of all the criticism I believe Juicero almost became a great brand. It aimed to combine a food product, hardware, and software giving both customers and designers amazing opportunities. This would allow Juicero to collect data from users and give them nutrition and other advice. Unfortunately, Juicero did not complete “the last 5 %” of the product by adding few more app features which use The Press data and make the system more relevant for customers. They made the mistake to launch The Press and their app with only limited features. Customers did not see the value and brand was not built. Maybe they did not have enough time, or they did not want to expose their designs in front of the competition. Whatever the reason I have a hard time believing that it is a scam as Bloomberg suggests. Juicero is a first victim in an internet of things evolution in which MVPs are much more demanding.
Juicero is also an obvious example of what happens if values are not accepted by customers. The main goal of any business is that its revenue results from customers acceptance of unique or other more competitive values. The fewer brands offer that value the better. The softer the value the better. If revenue comes from market trends, values shared with most competitors, easy to copy values, or competitor failures this is a risk for the brand. Juicero is an extreme example where a 100 MM USD investment was ruined by an online video, but there are much more subtle and slower failures resulting from lack of value acceptance.
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