Home beer brewing appliance maker PicoBrew had all the ingredients required for success: a seasoned founder team, defendable intellectual property, a unique product. They also had lots of early validation through crowdfunding platforms, which made them one of the top food-related Kickstarter campaigns of all time.
Success was all but guaranteed — until it wasn't.
Last week, an email went out to Picobrew customers informing them that PicoBrew had been sold through the bankruptcy process and had new owners (that won with a $7.5 million bid). The email also made clear the new owners weren’t all that interested in running the business.
And so as they sell off the pieces, I’ve been thinking about what lessons we can pull from the remains of a company that once had so much promise. There were many, in part because the company was trying to do so many things. They made hardware, had a consumables business, and sold into both consumer and professional markets. In a way, PicoBrew was as much a test lab for new ideas as it was a company, providing a fantastic case study for various food tech concepts and business models.
Of course, each company is its own unique combination of people, investors and ideas that ultimately results in a journey specific to them. That said, we can learn some truths from story of PicoBrew that are both instructive and broadly applicable to companies charting similar waters:
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