San Francisco-based startup Juicero got a lot of flak when it launched its cold-press juicer in the spring of 2016. Some held up the countertop appliance as a symbol of all that was wrong with Silicon Valley: a $699 connected device that solved a problem most people didn’t even have the luxury of affording—how to get fresh juice on demand at home.
The company said that like all new cutting-edge appliances—think Nespresso and Keurig—its first generation machine would be expensive but promised that its future models would be more within reach.
Today the company is starting to make good on that promise—at least a little bit. Juicero is reducing the cost of its first generation model to $399, a move it's making 12 to 18 months ahead of schedule.
Juicero CEO Jeff Dunn says the company planned to reduce the cost next year when it released its second-generation version for less than $300. But Dunn and his team made the decision to cut the cost now after running a test on Black Friday. They priced the machine for less than $400 and doubled their current number of users in one day.
Juicero was also able to make the reduction because it was selling twice the number of packs than it expected—10 per machine per week rather than the anticipated five. (The packs, which cost about $5 to $7 apiece, hold the diced up fruits and vegetables that get turned into juice). “We know as we build volume, that cost per unit is coming down," says Dunn, "and it’s coming down faster than we thought.”
Dunn was named CEO Of Juicero in October after running Campbell Soup's fresh business; Campbell Soup-backed venture fund Acre Ventures is an investor in Juicero.
Juicero is not changing the pricing structure on its commercial business, which serves offices, colleges and universities, and food service. Its machines currently sit in locations including the University of San Francisco, all Live Nation offices in California, and the Miami Dolphins offices. "I could see a Juicero in a McDonald's in five years," Dunn says.
Dunn noted that the company will soon be running a test with Whole Foods, placing the juicers in about a dozen of the its supermarkets as a self-serve option. The trial comes as Whole Foods has been trying to strip labor costs out of its business.
Juicero is still working on better customization options—right now users are limited to the flavors in the pre-existing packs—as well as expanding beyond juice. Dunn says the machine's capability is taking raw, live plant-based material and converting that into a finished product. "We know that we can change the pack configuration and create more of a smoothie product," he says, "but we want to get this right first."