Newsletter: Some Assembly Required, Is IKEA the Future of Food Tech?

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I spent a good chunk of the weekend building a cocktail robot. It was a kit I bought from, and to save $100 bucks, I opted for the DIY version ($299), all assembly required. And though it took a lot longer than the two hours the company said it requires to build (it’s still not done), I’ve actually had fun putting it together.

So much so, that when FarmBot announced yesterday it was launching an assemble-it-yourself vegetable garden robot, my first thought was “Hey, I could probably build that, too.” (SMASH CUT to my wife, just shaking her head).

But both MyBar and FarmBot got me wondering if we won’t see more DIY in our connected kitchens in the future a la IKEA. There are a few reasons why hardware food tech startups might want to borrow a page from the Swedish home furnishings giant.

First, DIY means something much different now than it did even a couple years ago. The MyBar kit I bought featured 3D printed parts, and the wiring required no soldering or crimping. Much like a piece of IKEA fürnitüre, there isn’t any real expertise needed going into the project, anyone with the set of instructions can do it.

Second, shifting the assembly labor to me is perfect for a tiny startup. Instead of spending their limited human resources on building each order, they can focus on design and product improvement.

And then there is the shipping. IKEA saves a ton of money in shipping because everything arrives in flat boxes. So too can cash-strapped startups save money by skipping the centralized assembly. The MyBar arrived at my door in a regular rectangular box. Inside there was no need for custom-fitting styrofoam to protect a put-together MyBar, as each separate flat piece was wrapped in plain ol’ bubble wrap. And, like IKEA, it even came with an allen wrench!

Obviously not every kitchen device will become DIY. I can’t imagine trying to put together a June oven or a Samsung smart fridge on my dining room table. But for small startups getting into the hardware game, DIY may be the best path to $$$.

Here’s a Tip: Learn How Your DoorDash Driver Gets Paid
If DIY isn’t your thing, especially when it comes to making a meal (no judgment), just about every restaurant does delivery now, and the biggest third-party delivery service of them all is DoorDash (raising $2 billion helps you build marketshare).

However, if you’re using DoorDash, you should know what is actually happening when you tip through its app. Jenn Martson broke down the controversy over DoorDash using tips to cover a “Dasher’s” base pay, and bottom line: The tips you’re leaving don’t necessarily translate into more dollars for your driver. In our consumer quest for convenience, we need to stop and see who’s paying who and how much.

We too, Have the Meats
Chances are good that if you are reading this, you’re doing so quickly, so you can get back to and finish up your work faster, so you can get out and celebrate the 4th of July holiday (and we don’t blame you).

If you’re grilling this Fourth, or at all over the summer, there are two things we wanted you to know about.

MEATER, which makes a wireless, connected meat thermometer, launched its new MEATER Block yesterday. It comes with four probes, all of which can be used to monitor four separate pieces of meat at once. Perfect for guests who prefer their steaks done differently, or for when you’re cooking different types of meat at once.

If you’re more of a plant-based meat eater, we celebrate you as well, and my colleague, Catherine came up with this handy guide for grilling Beyond Meat’s burgers and sausages (they’re both delicious), which you can wash down with a tasty cold brew.

Have a great and safe holiday!

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