PicoBrew’s founders have called it ‘a noble failure’…But what’s noble about pissing away millions on microwave-sized homebrewing appliances that not enough people wanted…
Here’s the deal…
PicoBrew, the homebrewing appliance startup based in Seattle, that raised more than $15 million via its Kickstarter campaign, is now cutting jobs, auctioning of equipment and selling off assets according to the Seattle Times.
Founded in 2010 by Bill Mitchell, along with his brother, Jim, and Avi Geiger, PicoBrew offered a counter-sized homebrewing unit that worked on the coffee-pod brewing concept. And its arrival at the height of craft beer’s emergence in the US seemed to ensure its success…or so its investors thought.
The company offered three beer-brewing appliances brewing kits and accessories, a PicoStill for crafting spirits, and it even announced plans for a new coffee-making appliance the company referred to as a “Keurig-killer.”
The startup, which was heralded by publications such as American Craft Beer, USA Today, Food & Wine and Mashable, seemed destined for success, but it didn’t work out that way…
In February, the Spoon reported that PicoBrew had entered the Washington State bankruptcy process in the form of court-managed receivership. “The company was losing $500,000 a month and owed roughly $15.2 million to PB Funding Group in loan principal and nearly $2 million in interest,” according to the Seattle Times.
In April, the founder team was let go, along with the customer service group and company equipment began being auctioned off.
So while PicoBrew’s future remains unclear, the prognosis isn’t good, especially in light of the economic impact inflicted by COVID-19.
The machine, which was engineered to simplify homebrewing, was never really simple enough for the casual fan. The process still took 7-14 days for the beers to become ready. Users were still dependent, and at the same time limited, by the company’s pre-made beer ingredient PicoPaks.
And the company’s $400 Pico Model C, which CNET called PicoBrew’s most “affordable and accessible,” ultimately proved too pricy for those casual fans…
“The machine still isn’t foolproof, so you might infect your beer if you don’t have any home brewing experience. The Model C won’t teach you to home brew and it’s much more complicated than a push button machine like a Keurig.”
“While better and cheaper than previous versions, the Model C still isn’t a great fit for casual beer drinkers or aspiring home brewers.”
So the brewing appliances that USA Today once called “supremely cool” are no longer available.
And frustrated users dependent on the company’s beer recipe PicoPaks, left without access to an essential ingredients necessary to continue making beer on the machines they may have spent up to $2749 to own.