MiniBrew, a Netherlands-based maker of home-brew appliances, announced last month they’ve secured funding to continue operations after a months-long struggle with COVID-19-related difficulties.
The company, which started shipping its home brew appliance last year in Europe, had big plans for expansion into the U.S. and other markets, but saw a number of strategic investors pull out in the midst of the pandemic.
The loss of investment back in June meant the company went into “suspension of payment” (meaning they couldn’t pay their creditors) and laid off members of the team. The resulting reduction in personnel and funding also meant MiniBrew had to put a halt on development of a 110-volt model of its machine for the U.S. market.
Despite the struggles due to COVID-related funding issues, the pullback came amidst an increase of usage of the appliances in the field as home brewers stuck indoors fired up their units to make beer. According to the company’s update, homebound MiniBrew users created three times more beer recipes compared to pre-COVID times.
Luckily for those MiniBrew users, the company announced they’ve reach an agreement with their creditors, secured funding and are once again adding new features for the MiniBrew such as recipe sharing.
MiniBrew’s struggles and small dedicated user base are reminiscent of PicoBrew’s here in the States, although unlike PicoBrew, the MiniBrew team was able to negotiate with its lenders to live another day.
Overall, home beer making automation remains a struggling category. In addition to PicoBrew and MiniBrew, we’ve watched startups like iGulu and HOPii struggle after big crowdfunding campaigns, while others, like LG’s much-hyped HomeBrew appliance, looks like it never got out the door.
The challenge will be whether the category can ever break out beyond the small group of early adopters who are craving a tech-forward home brew solution.