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Is Juicero Just a $399 Gimmick?

Vegans and health nuts often spend $10 a bottle for fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies. While it ultimately may be cheaper to make them at home, one company's fancy smart home juicer is being ridiculed as a device that barely presses juice better than human hands.

Counter-top Juicero pressing fresh-squeezed juice. Credit: Juicero

(Image credit: Counter-top Juicero pressing fresh-squeezed juice. Credit: Juicero )

The counter-top Juicero juicer cold-presses produce packs containing raw fruits and vegetables. Each pack costs about $5 to $8 depending on the ingredients.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that the juice packs could be hand-squeezed about as well as the Juicero machine can squeeze, and sometimes faster, according to its own tests.

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"Juicero may be the absurd avatar of Silicon Valley hubris, but boy is it well-engineered," wrote TechCrunch early this week.

Business Insider likened the juice press to a "Keurig for Juice," which processes single-serve packs. "The Juicero of today is a product for the 1%, not the 90% that truly need an affordable, healthy, and convenient source of fruits and vegetables," BI Senior Tech Reporter Biz Carson wrote. But the juice was good, noticeably smoother and resulted in less of a mess than you'd have to clean up from your average juicer at home, according to BI.

To develop the juice press, its namesake company raised $120 million from big-name firms including GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Juicero CEO Mr. Jeffrey Dunn, who joined the company late last year, is a Venture Partner at Acre Venture Partners, previously served as President of Coca-Cola North America and CEO of smoothie company Bolthouse Farms.

Venture capital firm Bolt tore down the Juicero to see what's inside. Credit: Bolt

(Image credit: Venture capital firm Bolt tore down the Juicero to see what's inside. Credit: Bolt)

"The team spent over two years building an incredibly complex product and the ecosystem to support it. Juicero built relationships with farmers, co-packing/food-processing facilities, complex custom packaging, beautifully designed mobile/web applications, and a subscription delivery service," wrote Ben Einstein, a founder and general partner at a venture capital firm Bolt, which funds tech startups. "But they did all this work without the basic proof that this business made sense to consumers."

After previously selling the Juicero for $700, the press is now being sold for $399 on the company's website, which advertises a 30-day "happiness guarantee."

Juicero is based in San Francisco and operates a 4.5 acre campus that sources ingredients from nearby farms, the company says.