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Hard-pressed Juicero boss defends $400 IoT juicer after squeezing $120m from investors

Crushed CEO says critics are comparing apples with oranges

By Shaun Nichols, 21 Apr 2017

Meet this week's bonkers startup Juicero – the San Francisco maker of a $400 fruit juicer that's bagged $120m in funding from investors.

The internet-connected gizmo has been dubbed the "Keurig for juice." Juicero founder Doug Evans went as far as comparing himself to Steve Jobs.

There's just one little problem with Juicero's "high-tech" machine: it is no better than a pair of human hands.

The idea is that you buy and place sealed bags of cut-up fruit and veg in the bulky contraption, which uses, allegedly, four tons of force to crush the produce into a liquid drink. Or, alternatively, you can skip that mechanical nonsense and just squeeze the fruit bags by hand into a glass and get the same result.

On Thursday, seemingly fed up with days of people sniggering at his company's expense, Juicero CEO Jeff Dunn realized there was nothing else for it. He slapped a pack of Silicon Valley Kool-Aid in one of his juicers, gulped down its gloopy cyber-sap secretion, and started typing:

Last summer when Juicero’s Board and Doug asked me to join Juicero as CEO, it was driven by the recognition that we were launching a totally new long-term approach which would require a tremendous effort to innovate, improve and scale. Juicero’s mission is to make it dramatically easier and more enjoyable to consume more fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, and that’s a really tough nut to crack. It seems simple, but despite everything we’ve done to-date as a food community, we’ve barely moved the needle.

What I love about Juicero is that our team is attacking this issue in a way unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s incredible to come to work everyday alongside hardware and software engineers, food scientists, designers, farmer partners, and all our other team members who are committed to building a new way of delivering raw, plant-based nutrition. What we’re building is long-term in nature and requires us to innovate each part of our system — from Press, to Produce Pack, to how we source organic produce directly from farms, to how we deliver the produce to consumers’ doorsteps. It’s hard work and not perfect yet by any measure — getting this right is a process of testing, learning and iterating.

So when I saw this week’s headlines about hacking and hand-squeezing Produce Packs, I had a one overriding thought: ”We know hacking consumer products is nothing new. But how can we better demonstrate the incredible value we know our connected system delivers?”

The value of Juicero is more than a glass of cold-pressed juice. Much more. The value is in how easy it is for a frazzled dad to do something good for himself while getting the kids ready for school, without having to prep ingredients and clean a juicer.

The sum of the system — the Press, Produce Packs and App — working together is what enables a great experience. However, you won’t experience that value by hand-squeezing Produce Packs, which to be clear, contain nothing but fresh, raw, organic chopped produce, not juice. What you will get with hand-squeezed hacks is a mediocre (and maybe very messy) experience that you won’t want to repeat once, let alone every day.

I’m committed to engaging the community in conversation about how we best serve our customers with raw, plant-based nutrition. You can reach me at jeffdunn@juicero.com, so please share your thoughts. I look forward to reading them.

Congratulations for making it this far. You've earned some organic plant-based nutrition, aka a beer. What nobody has bothered to explain is why any of this is preferable to just walking to the fridge and grabbing a bottle of Odwalla. ®

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