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“If it sells, great. If it doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world.” – Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky
The much-hyped, much-maligned Juicero — which accumulated more than a $100 million in funding from preeminent investors including Google Ventures (@GVteam) and Kleiner Perkins (@kpcb) to build a bafflingly complex $699 juicing machine that would process only proprietary, QR-coded bags of fruits and vegetables — announced this week that it’s closing down forever.
To the company’s credit, it’s offering a full refund to any customer who asks. The announcement caps a wild ride for the would-be juice empire: the company’s troubles started when Bloomberg (@business) reporters discovered that you could produce as much juice by hand as you could with the machine.
The Juicero saga has never produced an easy takeaway. Bolt (@BoltAcc) founder Ben Einstein (@BenEinstein) performed a teardown of the juicer and was surprised by the degree to which it was over-engineered; it’s easy to read the flowery verbiage the company used to describe its product and wonder whether it fell victim to its own marketing. And maybe the lesson is an old one: hardware is just hard.
Founder Doug Evans (@iamdougevans) seems to have retained his sense of humor. In the wake of the announcement, he posted a shot to Instagram, reproduced above, of himself disappearing into a windstorm at Burning Man (@burningman).
At World Maker Faire: A Revolution in Health Care
All indications suggest that World Maker Faire New York (@makerfaire) will again be a blowout event for maker pros. One event that caught our eye: MakerHealth (@makerhealthco) CEO Anna Young (@annakyoung) and MITresearcher Jose Gomez-Marquez (@jfgm) will present on how cross-pollination between the maker movement, the entrepreneur community, and the health care system is changing the landscape of health care.
At first bluff, it’s surprising that makers have found such a solid foothold in the tightly regulated world of medical innovation. But examples from such as MakerHealth (@makerhealthco) and MakerNurse (@MakerNurse), and the fab labs springing up at hospitals across the country, demonstrate the value of experimentation and lateral thinking in pharmaceutical labs, hospital beds, and beyond.
Pebble Founder Returns to Kickstarter
Long before it was acquired by Fitbit (@fitbit) last year, wearable sensation Pebble (@Pebble) ran a series of wildly successful Kickstarter campaigns that launched it to prominence and helped it build the team behind its eponymous smart watch.
Now, Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky (@ericmigi) is back on the crowdfunding platform with PodCase, a down-to-earth phone shell designed to charge an Apple iPhone along with two of the company’s wireless AirPod earbuds.
Juicero take note: PodCase looks like a fine project, but also one that’s purposefully tempered its ambition after Pebble ran into many of the headaches associated with maintaining a complex computing platform.
“If it sells, great,” Migicovsky said. “If it doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world.”
Other Machine Rebrands as Bantam Tools
Desktop CNC pioneer and noted maker pro success story Other Machine (@othermachine) will rebrand as Bantam Tools (@bantamtools) a name inspired by a plucky breed of poultry, to reflect a new company focus on teachers and professionals.
“We originally focused on the hobbyist market, but soon realized that 90 percent of our machines were being purchased by professional engineers and educators,” said CEO Danielle Applestone (@dapplestone) of the move. “This rebrand helps us focus on those professionals and educators, who dramatically accelerate their pace of development and innovation with our machines.”
Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web
Accelerators with in-house makerspaces, like Boulder, Colorado’s Boomtown (@Boomtown), aren’t just giving their members leeway to think outside the box and experiment with hardware. They can also use the spaces as opportunities to invite in the local community.
Make: correspondent Chiara Cecchini (@ClaireCecchini) reports on the work of 3DigitalCooks (@3digitalcooks), a studio that’s pushing the limits of what can be accomplished with 3D-printed food; she also wrote about Vegea (@vegeacompany), which is creating a leather-like material from winemaking byproducts.
Rather than reinventing the wheel, the French PSA Group (@GroupePSA) — that’s the maker of the Peugeot — has chosen to work with a Hungarian startup, AImotive (@AI_motive), to develop the company’s self-driving car division.