When Pascal Kriesche, Co-founder & CEO of SMOODI, told me how he and his co-founder joined forces last fall after discovering each one was working on a self-contained smoothie making machine for offices, I initially wrote it off as a rather banal origin story.
But I was wrong. In a lesson for journalists and entrepreneurs alike, I should have asked a follow up question, and Kriesche should have been more specific with his storytelling.
Turns out the other co-founder is Morgan Abraham, and the product Abraham was working on was UGo Smoothies, which I wrote about a little over a year ago. Turns out that UGo is gone and has now hooked up with SMOODI.
Honestly, I should have realized something was up when Kriesche laid out SMOODI’s product and business plan, which is essentially exactly what I wrote about UGo last year:
UGo makes a self-cleaning countertop smoothie machine targeting offices, gyms and universities. UGo is taking a Keurig-type approach by providing both the blender and cups full of pre-assembled fruit that go into the machine. It can even provide the freezer to keep those fruit cups frosty before you blend them.
Just swap out the name UGo for SMOODI.
There have been some changes since UGo was subsumed into SMOODI. First is a new emphasis on customization. SMOODI machines now allow users to choose their preferred smoothie thickness (this actually just adjusts the amount of water used, the system doesn’t incorporate dairy or other thicker milk liquids), and now offers boosts like oats, chia, protein powder or coconut.
The price has also gone up. UGo’s initial pricing was a monthly lease of the machine for $500 plus $3 per cup. SMOODI is now $500 a month for the machine and a variable per cup fee, depending on volume, with higher volumes costing $3.50 and lower volumes costing more.
Kriesche said the company is also working a model that would allow companies to charge end users directly per cup. This would be for settings like co-working spaces or for smaller business that can’t afford to subsidize all of the smoothies for employees. But this is still a ways off for SMOODI, as its machine can’t do transactions at this point.
SMOODI is currently in one beta test at the Boston Consulting Group office in Boston, where SMOODI is based. Through this trial, the company is examining pricing and working on its second generation machine. SMOODI hopes to go out more commercially next year.
SMOODI will be joining a crowded field of startups making all-in-one devices built to feed offices. Genie, which launched in the US earlier this year, provides small appliances that heat up pre-assembled food pods. Byte Technologies helps small retailers outfit offices with smart fridges that sell snacks and drinks.
And then of course, there is Replenish, which makes… a self-cleaning smoothie machine with Keurig-like fruit pods for offices.
Perhaps SMOODI will be joining forces with them.