2 min read
A dangerous phenomenon in business that finally has a name
March 28, 2023
A Juicero Problem is a phrase I use that represents a non-problem that shouldn’t be solved but is an ancestor to problems that appear legitimate.
Juicero was a company that raised $120 million from investors and released a high-end, internet-connected juice press in 2016.
The company marketed its product as a $400 luxury home juicing solution that could squeeze proprietary, single-serving juice packs that could only be purchased by subscription.
Then 16 months after the machine was released, Juicero suspended sales, refunded customers, and ceased to exist.
So what happened that took them from being valued at hundreds of millions to $0 at a break neck speed?
Well, on April 19th, 2017, Bloomberg News demonstrated that the same quality juice could be squeezed out of the startup’s juice packs by hand.
This simple act reduced the Juicero Press to an expensive paper weight and destroyed the company.
What Juicero successfully did was overengineer a juice press, set up a fresh fruit supply chain, create a juice pack subscription service, and sell a vision of a world where people used their press to squeeze juice into a cup better.
However, what they failed to do was determine if this was even a problem worth solving.
Instead, they proceeded to raise millions of dollars and hire Software Engineers, Sales Representatives, Managers, Logistics experts, and so on.
There were hundreds of people involved in executing the solution to Juicero’s chosen problem, each brought on board to solve challenges that appeared extremely real and meaningful to them.
These problems were everything from small “What color should the juicer be?” questions to “How are we going to ensure the press will only use our single-use pack?” nightmares.
The uncomfortable truth is all of the hard work these talented professionals put into the Juicero Press was a complete waste of time — all because the entire company was built to solve a non-problem that didn’t need a solution.
Strive to understand not only the problems you are faced with, but also the ancestor problems that spawn them.
The easiest way to traverse up this problem graph is to simply ask “Why?”.
This will help you focus on what truly matters and avoid spinning your wheels for no reason.