Start-up Gets Funding To Produce “Dog Food for Humans”

SpoonFed: Via NPR

Back in April, we described Rob Rhinehart’s experiment concocting something that could give him all the nutrition and none of the hassle of food.

Rhinehart is a 25-year-old electrical engineer in San Francisco who’d grown exceedingly frustrated with the time and effort of purchasing, preparing and consuming food, not to mention the cleanup. When he went in search of a cheap, nutritious powdered food product he could whip up, he found nothing. So he decided to make one himself.

Last week, Rhinehart announced on his blog that he had raised $1.5 million in seed capital from several venture capital and angel investor firms in Silicon Valley, including Andreessen Horowitz and Initialized Capital, to scale up production of his product, called Soylent.  [...] read more

Rhinehart’s full announcement:

It gives me great pleasure to announce that we have accepted over $1.5 million in seed capital from Andreessen Horowitz, Lerer Ventures, Hydrazine Capital, and Initialized Capital. This is in addition to the now over $1.5 million in pre orders our Crowdhoster campaign has collected since May. We have also not reincorporated since going through Y Combinator meaning Start Fund and the YC partners still own a portion of Soylent.

Like most things in life, I find it preferable to not have more than necessary, and capital is no exception. Given our revenue and vision it certainly would have been possible to raise more, but at this point I am more concerned with the people behind the investment than the money itself, and am very proud to have the support of the people we do. The amount raised was based on our projections and 18 month plan, and should carry us comfortably through the near term of product development, hiring, and the first stages of in house manufacturing, allowing us to lower our costs.

We have also enlisted the help of an illustrious group of advisers, including:

  • Dr. Pi-Sunyer, Professor of Medicine at the Columbia University Institute of Human Nutrition and Co-Director of the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center
  • Balaji Srinivasan, Co-Founder and CTO of Counsyl, one of the first large-scale applications of genomics in medicine
  • Chris Running, CEO of CytoSport / Muscle Milk

These are humble beginnings for something that is going to be very, very big. Many will dismiss Soylent as a joke, a toy, or judge the book by its cover, but in time people will wonder how we ever got along without engineered foodstuffs.

The first computers could only be used by programmers. The first cars were unusable except by mechanics. Today one practically has to be a nutritionist to manage a balanced diet, and it’s just too much work. It should be automated. Billions of people are collecting recipes, buying ingredients, cooking, and cleaning, all in parallel, not for pleasure, but for survival. How wasteful. Imagine chefs soldering their own smartphones or architects knitting their own clothing. Cooking is a pleasant art for some, but it would be better to have an option, without having to compromise one’s health or wallet.

Soylent is that option. If you’re a food enthusiast you can have a simple healthy meal to hold you over until your next feast. If you’re short on time you can fuel your body in seconds. If you’re trying to save money Soylent is hands down your cheapest option in terms of nutrition per dollar, and will only get cheaper. Soylent is designed from scratch to be as healthy and sustainable as possible, the most refined food in existence. Though too early to tell what the ideal human diet is, it is certainly possible to engineer something better than what most people are living on.

Health is about balance; moderation. I still enjoy all my favorite foods. In fact, my mostly Soylent lifestyle makes my recreational meals more enjoyable than ever, now that I’m not bombarding my senses with the engineered indulgence of fast food. I hope the very idea encourages one to consider how balanced the typical human diet is and the potential of everyone having the means to eat, and live, well.

PUBLISHED: October 23, 2013