Keen on giving up food for the rest of your life? Soylent, which claims to be a complete meal replacement, has received $1.5 million in seed funding ahead of its December launch from Andressen Horowitz and Lerer Ventures, according to TechCrunch.
Other investors to the round include Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian and a mix of Y Combinator partners — Harj Taggar and Garry Tan at Initialized Capital and Jack and Sam Altman at Hydrazine Capital. Soylent’s creator, Rob Rhinehart, plans on using the money to turn Soylent into a fully fledged business by moving to Los Angeles from San Francisco and working on manufacturing the product in-house to fulfill the thousands of preorders already made through the company.
It’s a long way from what started out as an experiment that Rhinehart conducted to rid himself of “the time, money, and effort the purchase, preparation, consumption, and clean-up of food.” Rhinehart tracked the development and production of Soylent on his blog and has already built a fledgling community of Soylent “beta testers” — a small group of people willing to take on the task of consuming only Soylent for periods of time.
Rhinehart has gone through many iterations of Soylent to achieve maximal nutritional value, and says it now contains a careful balance of raw carbohydrates, proteins and fats, as well as vitamins and minerals. Soylent users receive their new food source in resealable bags and prepare the mixture by mixing the powder with water and a recommended amount of grapeseed oil. Many who have posted anecdotally about taking the “Soylent Challenge” stress creating a recipe for the (otherwise bland and chalky) liquid, although Rhinehart stresses to TechCrunch that the company is focusing on improving the product’s taste and mouth feel.
In testing, reviews have been mixed. Tech journalist Shane Snow praised the meal replacement after committing to it for two weeks, while Greatist CRO David Tao experienced indigestion and health problems after struggling for just three days. But these tests alone have been the driving reason to transform Soylent from a solo experiment to a mass-producing company — Rhinehart has already been able to take his product past the “Will you do it?” stage, and many are lining up to see if they, too, can become unburdened by food.