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Goodbye to Grommet (julespieri.com)
33 points by Brett_S 9 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 16 comments

> No one had heard of brands like SodaStream, Fitbit, OtterBox, PopSockets, S’well, Bombas, SimpliSafe and Mrs. Meyers when we embraced and launched them.

I'm a little confused, it sounds like they're taking credit for SodaStream, a company that's more than 100 years old and has been in homes for decades [0]? And Fitbit was only a success because of these people?

Or am I just misunderstanding what they're trying to say here?

[0] Aside: SodaStream is surely ripe for disruption. Home fizzy water is great. Their margin on a tiny bit of CO2 gas must be enormous, surely they're laughing all the way to the bank. How have they maintained their virtual monopoly for so long?

Re: sodastream I do agree, and I don't particularly like their product. The profit margins of selling canned soda water are incredibly high. Sodastream has managed a virtual monopoly because they appear to have undercut that margin substantially (in that it is much cheaper to do yourself at home than buy soda) and have a very wide distribution network. There's a spot to swap canisters in the small hardware store down the block.

If you were to create a competitor, what would your differentiator be? Cheaper? Good luck, it's already pretty cheap. They're just not worth competing with, it seems.

There already is a competitor. It doesn't take a ton of expertise to attach a regulator and carbonation cap to a co2 tank. Doing it this way, it costs me $20 to get the tank filled, and I can use regular soda bottles.

the problem that sodastream still faces is that you can't get the flavor of e.g. waterloo (for those who don't know: like la croix, but better) at home.

so yeah, the fizz is easy, the flavor not so much. my wife and i do our own blends, but we tried the "essence oils" approach for a bit and gave up.

The next logical step from paying SodaStream for weirdly proprietary CO2 is to simply buy a real tank of CO2 and a bottle-top adapter and make your own. I'm not sure how that could be "disrupted" without carving out a niche for a slightly-more-convenient but equally unnecessary middleman.

I'm basically thinking "the same product as Sodastream, but way cheaper". Like Specsavers did for glasses.

Granted, there may be a little less demand for home fizzy water than there is for good eyesight ;)

It's not like I have a plan to disrupt them, I just hate paying $30NZD for what I know is probably only 30c of gas, if that. I know there are shipping costs, retailer gets a cut etc...

I'm just griping :D

Many Sodastream owners do things like this. Such as hook up a large, commercial CO2 tank, or refill Sodastream tanks with dry ice. Lots of videos on YouTube on this.

As far as I know, it wasn't very big outside Europe until last decade.

I was involved in e-commerce when The Grommet came about and they have a lot to be proud of. That said, the reason for things ending with the founders losing control is that they took a lot of money and then didn't live up to expectations.

Put more directly, they never held their own against Kickstarter, IndieGogo, or Etsy.

Their investor/owners went from Rakuten (the Amazon of Japan) to Ace Hardware. The latter probably thinks of The Grommet as a way to use quirky products to get people into physical stores. At that point the founders probably want out more than they are letting on.

So they stuck some end-caps in Ace stores and put a section on its website and for that gave up a majority share?


What was Ace Hardware expecting out of this deal?

Aside: my local Ace is frustrating more often than not. I go there because it's a mile away, but the inventory is so small that at least half the time I can't find what I need and end up driving the extra 15 minutes to the big box hardware store.

This Ace also has a small section devoted to pet supplies, but there again, it's often too small to be useful. An example: we adopted a dog last year and I wanted to get a name tag right away. PetSmart has kiosks that print these on-demand. The Ace store does not.

Their employees are also no longer the experts that Ace stores were once staffed by. I'm lucky if they even know their inventory. Meanwhile at HD, I can usually find someone with plumbing experience in the plumbing section, electrician experience in electrical, etc. Not always, but so far I'm batting 0% at Ace.

No one had heard of brands like SodaStream, ...

Huh? They've been around for decades.

An positive example of how passionate founders operated to serve both shareholders and the wider community comes to an unexpected end.

I thought that was this "grommet"[1]

1 - https://v2.grommet.io

All I could think of was Wallace and Gromit.

For a moment I thought it was Gromit.

Me too, started to wonder what they could have done wrong

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