Photo by: Dan Leveille
By: Michael Li
If you’re not a hipster below the age of twenty, chances are you haven’t heard of Soylent. So what exactly is it? Founded in 2014, Soylent is a brand of meal replacement products in the form of drinks, powders, and bars that are created by genetic engineering. Soylent was released by Rosa Labs, a company founded by Rob Rhinehart. Rhinehart wanted to help people across America maintain a healthy diet. Every Soylent product contains a mix of protein, carbohydrates, lipids, and micronutrients necessary for the ideal diet.
Soylent currently has four flavors: Original, Coffiest, Cacao, and Nectar. Consumers are able to pick between the four depending on personal preference. Coffiest combines the classic Soylent formula with caffeine and other nutrients. Cacao is chocolate-flavored and Nectar is fruit-flavored.
A good concept is a necessity for a successful startup; however, being able to turn concepts into reality proves even more paramount. Soylent did exactly that. Rhinehart’s creation received $1.5 million in preorders during its introductory campaign. Following this 2014 campaign, Rosa Labs began shipping operations, shipping the first $2.6 million worth of products using a cheap $500 system. In January 2015, the company received $20 million in Series A round (first round) funding, mainly from the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. In 2015, the second year of production, the company posted $10 million in revenue. In 2016, it was voted the top selling item of food on Amazon’s Launchpad list.
Before his success as an entrepreneur, Rob Rhinehart was known for his absurd ways of experimenting with the human body. As a software engineer graduate, he diverted his interests from developing software to creating food. He questioned the limitations on how much food the human body genuinely needed and adjusted his Soylent formulas appropriately. According to Business Insider, he would “tinker with different doses and types of nutrients, sometimes hurting himself in the process.” He believed that “eating is like a leisure activity, like going to the movies, but I don’t want to go to the movies three times a day.” Interestingly, it is this eccentric personality that attracts many people, both consumers and investors, to his product.
With a sensational start, the future of the Soylent brand seems bright. Under the leadership of Rob Rhinehart and his team, Soylent will definitely push to become a household name.