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Whirlpool crowdfunds a beer maker

TechCrunch TechCrunch 31/05/2016 John Biggs

The the movie in which Robert DeNiro plays an intern venerated appliance brand Whirlpool is spreading its wings, dusting out the cobwebs, and crowdfunding a freaking beer maker. The product, called Vessi, ferments and dispenses suds and even has a system for reducing and managing sediment.

The system comes from W Labs, Whirlpool’s skunkworks, and is part of Indiegogo’s Enterprise Initiative which brings big companies to the crowdfunding table.

The Vessi costs $1,200 for early birds but will sell for $1,800. It makes beer in seven days and requires no “expertise.” The Vessi only handles the cold side of beer fermentation which means you need to cook the grains and infuse the hops yourself on the stove.

“This product is the result of an employee business case contest,” said Noel Dolan, Senior Marketing and Open Innovation Manager at Whirlpool. “A group of passionate home brewers who work in various roles at Whirlpool got together and discussed what it was like for them to brew at home, and discovered they all had similar issues with the cold side of home brewing.”

“We’ve had the pleasure of working with some Michigan breweries that have provided substantial feedback as well as home brewers. Our Brewmaster works on our Global Consumer Design team, and he has over 29 years of brewing experience. We’ve also identified about 40 home brewers who work at Whirlpool, that have been nicknamed our ‘beer group.’ We have involved them every step of the way, from naming the product to using it to ferment their beer.”

This is Whirlpool’s first foray into crowdfunding and, as far as anyone can tell, their first attempt at making a beer appliance. Dolan wasn’t sure if the company will release the product in stores after crowdfunding but, if the movie in which Robert DeNiro is an intern is any indication, this move by an “old” brand into a new space will be full of love, laughter, and a little learning.

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