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When it comes to smart kitchen startups, there is no shortage of companies trying to change how we make our morning cup of joe.

One of the highest profile startups in this space over the past couple of years is Spinn, maker of a grind-brew coffee machine that utilizes a patented centrifugal brewing technology. I was intrigued enough with the company and its tech to plop down over $300 to join the first “batch” of orders in 2016, but almost two years past the promised ship date, I’m still waiting for my Spinn.

The company has hit some snags as they work to get their coffee maker to customers. While many of the Spinn’s early customers have been understandably frustrated, it appears most are hanging on, intrigued by the company’s periodic updates showing progress on the product. If they’re like me, I suspect many are getting frustrated with a company that continues to advertise and sell their overdue appliance, all the while creating more and more distance between new customers and those still waiting at the front of the line.

Still, I know I have no one to blame for investing my money in a Spinn with the knowledge that coffee startup products have been historically risky investments. With companies like ZPM and Arist turning out to be colossal misses and others like Bonaverde sputtering along for years and periodically shipping out products, I knew full well that I might never see the product. In the end, I may have been better off putting my money towards a Tesla like Spoon reader Rebecca:

“I put money down for this machine in Nov. 2016 (I’m a 1st batch-er) and at around the same time my husband put down money for a Tesla Model 3. At least I now have a smooth ride to the coffee shop!”

You can read my latest update on my Spinn journey here.

Coffee isn’t the only category that can be rough sailing for new startups. The home brew market has been notoriously tough as well, with companies like HOPii and iGulu struggling to ship and others like BrewArt and Brewie failing to get much traction.

Still, this hasn’t stopped South Korean consumer electronics giant LG from jumping into the game. The company recently announced they would debut a new home brewing device by the name of the LG HomeBrew at CES.  The capsule-based beer brewing appliance, which makes roughly the same amount of beer as a PicoBrew Pico per cycle, is expected to ship sometime next year.

What’s interesting to me is a company like LG usually only gets into a business if they see a high volume opportunity, which begs the question what will they do to differentiate their product?  While PicoBrew has certainly raised awareness around automated beer brewing, the company has yet to make home brewing a mass-market hobby, something I am sure LG hopes they can do.

Either way, next year promises to be an interesting one when it comes to tech-powered boozing at home. About a month ago, Keurig and AB InBev launched Drinkworks, a capsule-based instant serve cocktail, cider and beerbot machine expected to ship in limited quantities next year.

While home bev-tech space continues to slowly gestate, the pro market continues to move along at a rapid clip. Just this week, a robot powered bartender by the name of UR5e debuted at Broncos Stadium. The new bartenderbot is essentially robotic arm that grabs a beer cup and fills it (through the bottom, no less) for waiting customers.

Moving beyond beverage bots, this week also saw the introduction of a new sidewalk delivery bot from Postmates that goes by the name of Serve. Serve, which looks like the lovechild of Minion and Starship deliverybot, is expected to roll out in Los Angeles over the next year. And speaking of food delivery, this week Chris wrote about the breakup of Amazon and Instacart, something that’s been rumored ever since the big online retailer acquired Whole Foods.

There’s lots more great analysis to catch up from this past week, including looks at the first cell-grown steak and what the new farm bill means for CBD, so make sure to check it out.

That’s it for now. Have a great weekend and we’ll see you next week!


In the 12/14/2018 edition:

Presto Eats May Be the Most On-Trend Meal Kit Company Yet. But Will It Succeed?

By Catherine Lamb on Dec 14, 2018 11:16 am
Whenever I get word about a new meal kit company, it’s hard not to be immediately skeptical. It’s no secret that meal kits are struggling: Chef’d surprised everyone when it shut down abruptly earlier this year. Boston hyper-local meal kit Just Add Cooking ceased operations this fall. And Blue Apron’s stock continues to underwhelm.

The Denver Broncos Get a Beer Pouring Robot at Mile High Stadium

By Chris Albrecht on Dec 14, 2018 08:04 am
While the Denver Broncos may be in the midst of a losing season, they could win over fans this weekend when a new robot starts dispensing Bud Light at Mile High Stadium (h/t The Washington Post). You’d think that such a mechanical miracle would have a fancy name like the “Robo-Bronco” or the “Elway 3000,” […]

Startups! They’re Just Like Us! Amazon and Instacart Break Up

By Chris Albrecht on Dec 13, 2018 04:00 pm
Like Ben and Jennifer, Brad and Angelina, and Cardi B and Offset*, Instacart and Amazon have broken up. In a blog post today, Instacart announced that it was winding down (consciously uncoupling?) its grocery delivery relationship with Amazon. Like with so many other power couples, this breakup wasn’t entirely a surprise.

The Farm Bill Just Passed — What Does That Mean for the CBD Market?

By Catherine Lamb on Dec 13, 2018 02:08 pm
After months of back and forth, Congress voted yesterday to pass the 2018 Farm Bill. The $867 million bill contains lots of wide-reaching legislative measures, like expanded farm subsidies, SNAP revisions, and permanent funding for farmers markets. But perhaps most interestingly, the bill legalizes the production and sale of hemp at a federal level.

What Bowery’s Latest Funding Round Says About Indoor Farming

By Jennifer Marston on Dec 13, 2018 12:00 pm
New Jersey-based indoor-farming startup Bowery announced yesterday that it has raised $90 million in fresh funding. The round was led by Alphabet Inc.’s GV with participation from Temasek and Almanac Ventures, General Catalyst and GGV Capital (Bowery’s Series A investors), and various seed investors. Bowery produces what founder Irving Fain calls “post-organic produce.”

ImpactVision Raises $1.3M Led by Maersk

By Chris Albrecht on Dec 13, 2018 10:11 am
ImpactVision, a startup that uses hyperspectral imaging to assess food quality, has raised $1.3 million, according to VentureBeat. The round was led by logistics and transportation company Maersk, and brings the total amount raised by ImpactVision to $2.9 million. As we wrote last year about ImpactVision: Using a combination of digital imaging, spectroscopy and machine learning, […]

Postmates Debuts its own Bright-Eyed Delivery Robot

By Chris Albrecht on Dec 13, 2018 06:00 am
You know what you can look forward to in 2019? More robots (but more on that in a later post). Case in point: delivery service Postmates announced today that it has developed its own autonomous delivery rover that will be hitting sidewalks next year. Dubbed Serve, the li’l robot is a bright yellow square-shaped box […]

Hi Fidelity Genetics Raises $8.5M for AI-Driven Plant Breeding

By Chris Albrecht on Dec 13, 2018 04:00 am
Hi Fidelity Genetics (HFG), which combines sensors, data and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve plant breeding, today announced that it has raised an $8.5 million Series A led by Fall Line Capital and Finistere Ventures. This brings the total amount raised by HFG to $11.5 million. There are two parts to the HFG system.

Deliveroo Goes Back to the Future with Brick and Mortar Food Hall

By Catherine Lamb on Dec 12, 2018 04:00 pm
You know how they say that in fashion, everything old comes back around and eventually is new again? It seems that the same might be true for restaurants. This week London-based food delivery startup Deliveroo opened up its first brick-and-mortar location in Hong Kong (h/t CNBC). The so-called Delivery Food Hall is home to five […]

Waitr to Acquire Bite Squad for $321.3M

By Jennifer Marston on Dec 12, 2018 02:00 pm
Online delivery platform Waitr has announced plans to acquire third-party delivery service Bite Squad for $321.3 million. The purchase price is a mix of cash and shares of common stock of Waitr. Both companies serve small- to mid-sized U.S. markets. Waitr is a full platform from online order and delivery. Restaurants partnering with the company […]

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