The Juicero story
It is kind of strange in how everybody talks about pressing the Juicero juice bags with hands and nobody noticed the fundamental fact that if it the juice was in a bottle you would not need to press it at all. The press in the device is completely redundant — the vegetables are already processed into a pulp. So why it is there? The best explanation is that it a leftover from a more ambitious plan to build a tabletop machine that would cold-press vegetables and fruits. At some point the Juicero team realized that a tabletop press would not have enough power for that task — but that point was just too late. Much money had already been spent on designing and building the whole device and nobody had the guts to switch to a more realistic plan of selling bottled juice. Eventually someone had that genius idea of using the press in the machine to squeeze the already processed vegetables out of a bag.
The Juicero story is not about too expensive hardware — it is about throwing out of the window just about every startup advice — to fail early, to build an MVP, to have users early etc.
The biggest puzzle in all of this is how Ycombinator failed to oversee the project and make it follow Paul Graham’s own advice.
Update: Originally I thought that the bags contain already pressed juice — it looked like that in the linked Bloomberg video — but apparently the bags contain the juice mixed with some remnants of the vegetables in some kind of a pulp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQRTcWQiyGk . Still it does not make much sense to split the process of producing the juice into the factory part where the vegetables are ground into a pulp and squeezing the juice out of the pulp — that split must be a remnant of a more ambitious plan when it was really about cold-pressing and not grinding.