This interview is with Doug Evans, the Founder of Juicero. We interviewed Doug for the Smart Kitchen Show podcast. You can hear Doug’s interview here.
This Conversation Series interview is condensed and slightly edited for readability. You can read the full interview transcript here.
Michael Wolf: What is the Juicero?
Doug Evans: First it’s a software platform. The platform tracks the produce from the farm all the way through the Juicero press and provides visibility and transparency into the ingredients, into the source of the farm, into the nutrition, when it was created and when it expires. We built this software platform that connects to our financial planning system as well as into the cloud, into our website, and mobile and Android and iOS, so we have a full software system that actually comes with the Juicero press.
It’s also hardware, which is literally one part iPhone and one part Tesla roadster. It is a consumer device that has industrial strength and capability, all designed to extract the juice or the nectar from fresh, ripe, raw organic fruits and vegetables. Those fruits and vegetables actually come in the form of a pack, so we actually have in the Los Angeles region 110,000 square foot refrigerated LEED Gold-certified processing facility where we receive produce from the farm.
Michael Wolf: How do the packs work?
The vision is not to store inventory produce but to take the e-commerce orders and then reach out to our 14 farm partners, source the produce, have it transported to us on refrigerated trucks, and then inside our facility, we triple wash them, chop them, mix them, and put them into these packs. The packs have allowed design in engineering and their packaging a very unique QR code put on them, and that QR code can be read by an iPhone or an Android and the pack also gets read automatically by a scanner inside of the Juicero Press.
Michael Wolf: You created an entire fresh pressed juice value chain ecosystem all the way from sourcing to processing to the press. Was there any other way to do? You feel like you had to do this entire I guess delivery system and press.
Doug Evans: After I left Organic Avenue and I wanted to figure out what I was going to do next because I was very hungry and very thirsty, I found a real gap in the market that the quality of juice that I was accustomed to, which was coming right off of a press I could literally in my prior organic kitchen, I could gulp with a glass and that cold press juice pour right into the glass, and I was able to drink it. When I got home, I was wondering like where am I going to get my juice. I looked at the options on the Internet, on Amazon, and Bed Bath & Beyond, and Williams-Sonoma. Basically, all the juicers that were available were using either augers or gears or centrifuges, and they operate at different speeds but fundamentally they were all copies of the same design.
But what I knew from my actual 10 years of Organic Avenue was I learned about cold presses, and all the big juice companies use cold presses. Starbucks, Evolution Fresh. Organic Avenue used cold presses and so I knew the difference between the industrial, commercial juice presses and the consumer ones that were made available via retail. I just saw a big gap. Similar to the spirit of what Apple did with taking the mainframe computer and creating the personal computer, I looked at was it possible to take a mainframe juice press and create a personal juice press, with some of the attributes that makes it easy to clean and making it small so it fits on a kitchen countertop. That was my original design intention.
I was able to cobble together a prototype and we took fresh produce and we chopped it, and sliced it and grated it and wrapped it in cheesecloth and put it in the early prototype and turned it on. Lo and behold, I was able to press the juice out of the produce. That’s what I actually brought to Silicon Valley was a very crude prototype, but the design and my design intention allowed me to make five juices in 5 minutes with no setup and no cleanup. The end product was this new type of juice.
Michael Wolf: The price point is $700. Do you see that coming down?
Doug Evans: I think the price will definitely come down as we kind of optimize and shift and move way from CMC metal parts to forged and casted parts. The cost will be able to come down as we get to scale. This is the first product. We had to really make sure that it was safe. Almost every tolerance is overbuilt to beyond safety parts, so it’s a very comprehensive safe design. As we can do statistically significant wear tests over time, we can see where we might be able to make things wider or thinner, which should also result in making things less expensive.
Michael Wolf: Who is the target customer?
I think the target customer today is really people who drink fresh juice or people who are drinking cold-pressed juice. In our research ‑ and we’ve done quite extensive quantitative and qualitative research ‑ that people love fresh juice. Even people who don’t want to like fresh juice end up loving fresh juice and I can elaborate on that in a minute. But fresh juice is really not easily obtained. I love the video that we shot, which is really true, which is why people resonate with that. And so people who don’t want fresh juice and they don’t want to make it end up getting juice in a bottle, and the juice in a bottle are the sheer nature that is put in the bottle is no longer fresh as they make on their own.
Invariably, everybody loves the Juicero juice like everyone just loves it. When they were asked, and I really become a fly in the wall in the discussions, because I was asked, “Hey, if juicing was this easy, will you do it?”
Michael Wolf: You guys were definitely one of the most high-profile stealth companies in , but why so secret? Were you worried that people are going to copy the idea? What was the reason for the secrecy?
Doug Evans: I think that I wanted to stay focused and I didn’t know how long it was going to take to do, and I didn’t see any value about talking about things before they were ready, and sort of saying I had really nothing to say like I’m not someone who’s a smart engineer or food scientist. I really don’t want to talk to anybody.
Michael Wolf: [laughter] Well, this has been great. Hey, Doug, I appreciate it on your big day. Congratulations! People can find you at Juicero.com if they want to check it out, right?
Doug Evans: Absolutely, absolutely. Thanks so much, Mike. You’re terrific and it’s an honor to meet you over the phone.