Less than two weeks after he appeared on stage at the Smart Kitchen Summit, Juicero’s Doug Evans made a splash last week by announcing he was stepping down as the company’s CEO and handing the day to day reigns of his high profile connected juicer company to former Coca-Cola North America President Jeff Dunn. Evans will remain Chairman of the company and focus on building strategic relationships.
While the change seems somewhat abrupt, the overall shift makes sense if you look at Evans’ history. As the former CEO of another juicing concern, Organic Avenue, Evans has showed he is long on vision for innovative new business ventures, but nowhere on his resume does he have experience scaling the type of operation that Juicero eventually needs to meet its ambitious growth plans.
When we asked him about the timing of the news, Evans pointed to the growing complexity of Juicero’s business and Dunn’s experience.
“We have built and launched a phenomenal product and simultaneously launched into both consumer and commercial, so it is the perfect time for an experienced operator to come help me scale this business,” said Evans. ‘With his deep experience running food and beverage businesses, Jeff fits the bill for what we need in every way, and I’m enthusiastic that he’s joining us.”
When you look at the challenges ahead for the juicing startup, at the top of the list is building out more production capacity for the company’s juice packs. Each pack is put together today in Los Angeles in a plant built by the company and then shipped to homes of Juicero customers. Today the company only offers the juice packs in four states – California, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico – and Evans has told me previously the company would need to add additional manufacturing capacity over time to manage a wider rollout.
Adding additional challenges is the time urgency around creating fresh juice packs. Each pack has approximately a 7 day lifespan, meaning distribution has to be well optimized to get from plant to presser in a short amount of time.
It’s clear the company has lots of work ahead as it looks to distribute its juice packs nationwide in the US and eventually overseas, so it makes sense Evans and the board (of which Dunn was a member) would see the need to bring on more expertise to help execute on the former CEO’s vision.
Below you can read Doug’s thoughts on Juicero’s future under Dunn below. You might also want to check out his recent appearance at the Smart Kitchen Summit to hear the back story of how he built the company.
How do you think Dunn’s experience at Coca Cola and later Campbells will be applied at Juicero?
Evans: Jeff brings a unique blend of big food brand and emerging food tech experience with him to Juicero, and I believe this unique perspective is what will be so valuable to us. On one hand, he has 30 years of experience managing and growing iconic brands. On the other, he’s passionate about the role technology and innovation can play in improving the fresh experience — and has invested in and advised some of the most promising food startups. As Juicero seeks to reinvent the fresh produce category as we know it, Jeff’s blended perspective will help us leverage the best of both worlds.
One of your new roles in the press release was focusing on strategic relationships. What does this mean and what are some examples (in abstract) of relationships you can see yourself driving?
Evans: The strategic relationships I’m focused on span everything from business partnerships in appliances, technology, food and in brand-relevant spaces, to potential customers in existing or new channels, to potential investors. As Juicero’s founder, I can uniquely tell Juicero’s story and explain our vision in a deep way.
As founder and the visionary behind Juicero, was the move to a professional CEO a sign that the company is moving into more of an execution phase?
Evans: We’ve executed aggressively since day one and will continue doing so. As Juicero expands its consumer consumer and commercial offerings, we need a leader like Jeff who has deep experience scaling fresh food and beverage businesses.