When I first got the email this morning from the Ninja PR rep, I got excited and thought maybe the company had gone and created a drink replicator similar to the one from Cana.
“SharkNinja’s First Hydration System, Ninja Thirsti, Allows Users to Create Thousands of Drinks at the Touch of a Button,” the press release declared triumphantly.
Ok, Ninja, you’ve got my attention.
Reading further, it became clear that the new Thirsti machine isn’t going to create any drink – coffee, tea, juice, beer, wine – at the push of a button. Instead, we have a machine taking on the Sodastreams and Philips of the world with a new home fizzy drink maker, only with a couple of interesting twists, including the ability to mix two flavors at once and vary the level of carbonation and flavor intensity. The new Thirsti will sell for $179 and will soon be available at major retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon.
The product isn’t a bad one – in fact, it looks like an improvement on what you can get from others in the category – it just isn’t a make-anything personalized drink machine like the Cana. But, unlike the Cana, the Thirsti will ship and be available at a competitive price point (the Cana was going to sell for $900).
In other words, the product was made for today, not the future, with a slightly different twist on what’s out on the market. And as I write those words, I may have just summarized SharkNinja’s guiding North Star principle because it seems the company does it repeatedly.
They did it when they offered up their Creami countertop ice cream and smoothie maker in 2021, which the NY Times compared to a professional machine in the Pacjojet in its ability to whip frozen treats in a similar fashion as a professional machine in the Pacojet (though with a few red flags).
They did it again when they entered the BBQ/smoker space, creating an interesting-looking outdoor grill and smoker, about which Home & Garden had to say the following: “Many grills have multiple cooking functions, but there isn’t anything on the market quite like the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill. Not only does it grill, but it can roast, bake, air crisp, dehydrate, broil, and best of all – smoke meats and vegetables to perfection.”
And we can’t forget how the company was one of the first to offer a combination air fryer and pressure cooker in 2018, a year before Instant Pot got around to offering the product combo.
And it’s these products that are, in a sense, why Ninja is going public while others are puttering along with lesser market share and, in some cases, going out of business.
If you’d asked anyone back in 2019 who would go public in 2023, most would have pointed to Instant Pot, not SharkNinja. But today, it’s SharkNinja that is growing revenue (it had $3.76 billion in the 12 months ending in March) while Instant Brands is reorganizing its business under chapter 11 and laying off employees.
The spin out comes six years after SharkNinja was acquired by Chinese small appliance entrepreneur (and Joyoung founder) Wang Xuning, who used private equity financing to do the deal and create a new company in JS Global Products with SharkNinja at the center. Now, years later and with hundreds of patents to its name, SharkNinja has plans to go public.
The countertop appliance business is a very tough one to compete in. Still, Ninja has thrived due to its willingness to create new mashup concepts for products, often with interesting design choices, all packaged around unique and memorable brand names for each line. This contrasted with companies like Instant Brands, which would at times create products that seemed derivative of its initial ideas, or like Gourmia and other copycat brands, whose knockoff products didn’t have the same quality feel or brand line cohesiveness.
So while Ninja hasn’t offered a drink replicator, give them time. They’ve shown they can surprise us, and maybe someday, that will be with something straight out of the pages of science fiction.