Smart Kitchen Notes: Juicero & June Funding Show Growing Interest in Smart Kitchen

Even though the Smart Kitchen Summit is six months off, we're getting very excited as we put together our early list of speakers and panels. Adding to the excitement is the growing interest the broader tech community is taking in smart kitchen, as evidenced by the high profile funding rounds for smart kitchen startups like Juicero and June, while lots of new and interesting startups are entering via Kickstarter and elsewhere.  

Speaking of Juicero, the connected juicer startup came out of stealth last week, and we have the story of the company's $700 cold-press home juicer and home subscription service. We also discuss SideChef's attempt to integrate its cooking app with a variety of third party devices to enable easy connected cooking experiences, and take a look at some of the first data points around Dash Button usage.

If you prefer to consume smart kitchen info in podcast form, you can hear a conversation with Kevin Yu of SideChef and David Rabie of Tovala in this episode of the Smart Kitchen Show, and you can hear Juicero founder Doug Evans discuss the vision behind the company here.

In Smart Kitchen Summit news, we assembled have a great bunch of speakers for Smart Kitchen Summit 2016 (we'll be announcing them soon), but we still have slots open. We've opened up a call for speakers, so for those who are passionate and feel they have something to say, let us know a little about you and what you would be interested in talking about.

Lastly, we're six months out from the main event as of today, but early early bird ticket prices expire at the end of May. If you are interested in a ticket, newsletter subscribers can get an extra 5% discount through April.

Now onto the news and analysis. 

Meet Juicero, The First Big Stealth Startup Of The Connected Kitchen Era

Back in the early days of the digital home, one secretive startup named Rearden Steel captured the imagination of many in space, quite a feat in a market with no shortage of buzz or aspiring entrepreneurs hoping capitalize on growing consumer interest in connected entertainment. Sure, the company's Atlas Shrugged inspired name had something to do with the intrigue, but a bigger reason for the high level of interest in the company was that Rearden was to be the next act for Steve Perlman.

Perlman had built quite a name for himself as the founder of Internet to TV startup WebTV. Eventually WebTV was acquired by Microsoft, and not too longer after Perlman left to create Rearden Steel. For over a year people wondered what exactly he was up to, and when he eventually lifted the veil, it was clear Perlman hadn't strayed far from his digital living room roots with Moxi, a company building connected entertainment devices and software. Read More

SideChef Wants To Set The Standard For The Smart Kitchen

Imagine you pull up a guided cooking app and choose a steak and roasted vegetable recipe. The app tells the oven to preheat for the veggies, and your connected scale prompts you to weigh out the recipe’s ingredients. Your sous vide cooker begins to heat the pot of water to the exact temp needed to cook the perfect sirloin. You use one app, and one platform to walk through the recipe and control your entire cooking experience. Sound futuristic? This is the kitchen SideChef hopes to create. Read More

Quick Hits:

Amazon Adds More Dash Button, But Are Consumers Using Them?

The Gist: Amazon added more products to the list of Dash Button partners, bringing the total number of available products to over a hundred. However, according to online shopping panel research company Slice Intelligence, about half of those who have buttons are using them.

Our Take: Amazon keeps adding new buttons, and why shouldn't they? Brands love it and the press keeps writing about it, as the button is unique in that it's the widely deployed IoT platform for brands and push-button shopping.  For brands, there's really no downside by creating a button for your product, and I imagine Amazon is pretty overwhelmed with requests from CPG product managers.  

Source: Slice Intelligence

Source: Slice Intelligence

As far as data goes, Amazon never releases very good data to give you an idea of how any new initiative is doing, so I never take too much stock in data points such as "Dash orders are up 75%".  So that makes the Slice Intelligence data interesting, which is the first real data around usage I've seen. While user panel data is never perfect, I think around 50% usage for Dash Buttons overall and the brand breakouts for top Buttons overall is not surprising to me and feels pretty accurate.  I'm interested to see how this data trends over time as we see the offering of Buttons expands and we see new product categories - including everything from condoms to beef jerky - roll out. 

June and Juicero Funding Rounds Show Investor Interest in Smart Kitchen

The Gist: June, the smart countertop oven that sees your food and cooks it to perfection closed on a $22.5 million dollar Series A funding round last month. The round was led by Eclipse, a VC interested in companies combining hardware, software and data, and included new and previous investors and brings the total amount raised to date to $30 million. June also announced a delay in shipping, pushing back initial pre-order fulfillment from the summer until the holidays. This came a week before the Juicero news of a $70 million round

Our Take:  The word in Silicon Valley is overall funding has been slowing down dramatically in the last few months, which makes these two high profile funding rounds for smart kitchen companies make me think that food tech and the connected kitchen in particular is a bright spot in an overall down market. This would be in line with what we saw in 2015, where overall food tech venture investing was up significantly, and we expect more and more foodtech investors see opportunity in the kitchen as companies look to reinvent cooking. 

Lowe’s / HoloLens partnership

The Gist: Lowe’s is bringing virtual reality to kitchen design

Our Take: We’ve seen connected technologies changing many elements of the kitchen including recipes and methods we use to guide our cooking and the devices and appliances we use to store and cook our food. But bringing HoloLens virtual reality into kitchen design is perhaps the first foray into changing how we build and create our kitchens in the future.

Smart Kitchen Summit News

Speaker Submission now open!

Are you passionate about the future of food and the kitchen? Are you a world class expert on a topic that would educate and amaze at Smart Kitchen Summit 2016? We want to hear from you! We are putting together an amazing roster and a great program and you might be part of it. Submit today

That's it for this week. Subscribe to our newsletter here if you haven't already and make sure to take advantage of early early bird pricing for Smart Kitchen Summit. 

Mike WolfComment