Here at The Spoon, we love combing through Kickstarter to discover innovative kitchen ideas at their very earliest stage. This love of the crowdfunding platform is seasoned with a dollop of skepticism, however, as many hardware projects that reach their goals never actually see the light of day.
Judging from this article over on Belfast Telegraph, Brewbot may be yet another cautionary Kickstarter tale. It looks as though the Belfast-based Brewbot narrowly avoided being shut down by tax officials entirely and has instead “entered into an agreement to pay creditors.”
Brewbot had raised £114,368 (~$150,000 in today’s USD) through 381 backers on Kickstarter back in October 2013, and went on to receive more than £1 million in additional funding. For a time, Brewbot also owned and operated a bar in Belfast.
An Irish Times article last December reported that some of Brewbot’s suppliers cut off the companies credit line and that Brewbot had liabilities of more than £1 million. The Telegraph article says the company had cut staff to only the bar workers and only “a small number” of Brewbots were ever produced.
We reached out to Brewbot for comment, and did not hear back as of this writing. The company’s Twitter feed has not been active since July 2016. Founder Chris McClelland has been quiet on Twitter since May, popping up only in October to retweet the sale announcement of Brewbot’s bar. “Team” and “Our Story” pages on the Brewbot website now return 403 errors.
The apparently sad saga of the Brewbot has been chronicled over on the blog Brewbot Answers. Whomever is behind that site has posted news updates about Brewbot as well as their own personal experiences with the project and attempts to get a refund. We posted a comment on the Brewbot Answers page in an attempt to find out more, but have not heard back yet.
According to Brewbot Answers, there will be a Brewbot Town Hall on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 from 5pm – 6pm (BST). This invitation was reportedly sent to just 23 recipients.
From the looks of it, Brewbot appears to be yet another example of the harsh realities that go along with bringing hardware to market. Wide-eyed optimism has a tendency to turn a blind eye to the complexities of machining and manufacturing. This is made all the more easy as there are no real repercussions for failure on a platform like Kickstarter, and there is little recourse for hopeful backers. Caveat Emptor and all.
That’s not to say that all Kickstarted hardware projects are doomed. PicoBrew, another home beer making system was and continues to deliver on its promises. And the homebrewing space continues to see new entrants such as the Hopii, which made a splash at our recent Smart Kitchen Summit.