The Premise. For the fancy chef, self-proclaimed foodie or anyone with taste buds, fresh herbs are a must. Chopping herbs can be difficult and doesn’t always produce even, reliable results. Finely chopped herbs can also make a mess, spreading out and sticking to the cutting board, knife and countertop.
The Product. Bearing no resemblance to the Volkswagen Beetle that co-starred with Lindsay Lohan, Herbie is an electronic herb grinder that is rechargeable and plugs into the wall or laptop using a USB cord. It can run for up to two hours (good for at least one Phish jam) on a full charge. Herbie is made out of aluminum and stainless steel and comes with a wall charger, USB cable and spout. Herbie has a cheaper little brother, Herbie Lite, that’s made out of plastic and polycarbonate and comes with a wall charger and USB cable.
The Pitch. Herbie’s Indiegogo campaign shows that its creators, Conlin Monaco and Will Lawler, really wanted to craft a well-made product. In the video, they talk about how they designed Herbie to avoid the problems that other dry herb grinders face, such as clogging up and metal shavings that come off of the mechanism. Their campaign explicitly shows the difference between the Herbie and Herbie Lite, which was extremely helpful. Monaco and Lawler are trying to raise the unrounded sum of $76,875. They have three stretch goals: $120,000 for a spout attachment, $160,000 for a storage compartment that attaches directly to Herbie and $200,000 to manufacture Herbie with Teflon to avoid gunk build-up. They’ve been confident enough to launch a Herbie Web site though it doesn’t contain much information yet.
The Perks. There are two early bird specials, one for an Herbie Lite at $39 and one for a regular Herbie at $69. A regular Herbie for the not-so-early bird requires a contribution of $79. The reward tiers climb all the way up to $2,250, each including generous discounts for the grinder and its accessories. More than 30 Herbies might sound like a minyan, but the option is there if desired. Estimated delivery is May 2014.
The Potential. Overengineered aluminum USB grinders seem to be a crowdfunding thing; the iDraw pencil sharpener failed to meet its funding goal on Kickstarter. The idea of being able to sprinkle some reasonably fresh rosemary onto one’s meal instead of salt could have great health benefits for many. Herbie, while a convenient solution for the kitchen, though, is incredibly expensive at a retail price of $90 for the Lite version and $100 for the not-so-Lite. Mechanical grinders are much cheaper and can chop up herbs just as well as Herbie seems to be able to. There are also electronic grinders already on the market such as the Compact Electric Herb Grinder at about a tenth of the price and choppers that can get the job done as well. Ultimately, most foodies may opt out of purchasing this expensive luxury item. However, Herbie may find success with other demographics, such as certain residents of Washington and Colorado.