By Courtney Anderson
If the idea of a single product that contains all the nutrients humans could ever need to be healthy and stay alive sounds like something ripped straight out of an old-school sci-fi thriller, that’s because it kind of is.
Make no mistake, Soylent is a real product.
It was created by Rob Rhinehart, a Georgia Institute of Technology graduate and trained software engineer a few years ago.
Now, Rhinehart, along with COO Matthew Cauble, spearhead the development, research, marketing, global logistics, and financial operations for the Soylent team.
Cauble and Rhinehart had worked together before: they founded Level RF, a wireless communications firm that was supported by Y-combinator, in the summer of 2012 before embarking on adventures in food production.
The name “soylent” is a portmanteau of the words “soy” and “lentils.”
The name was inspired by the 1966 sci-fi novel “Make Room! Make Room,” written by Harry Harrison.
The book was later turned into a film about the perils of overcrowding and climate change- Soylent Green (“Soylent Green is people!”).
Rhinehart conceptualized Soylent as a new way to take care of your body.
Soylent started off as a 30-day nutritional experiment Rhinehart was running, in which he ate only the vitamins and nutrients that are recommended by the Food and Drug Administration.
He posted the experiment and initial results on his website, robrhinehart.com.
“What if I consumed only the raw ingredients the body uses for energy? Would I be healthier or do we need all the other stuff that’s in traditional food? I just want to be in good health and spend as little time and money on food as possible,” Rhinehart wrote in a blog post titled “How I Stopped Eating Food,” in 2013.
After posting the details of this experiment onto his blog for the entire month, Rhinehart realized that he could find a way to create a new foodstuff that would adhere to FDA requirements.
“I haven’t eaten a bite of food in 30 days, and it’s changed my life,” he wrote.
Thus, the idea for Soylent was born.
Soylent didn’t go into full production until 2013, after it was fully funded through crowdfunding. Soylent raised $3 million online. To date, Soylent is the most funded food project on any crowdfunding site.
The first real version of powdered Soylent product was produced as the Rosa Labs Company first line in 2013, and the first shipments went out in early 2014.
In the summer of 2015, Soylent 2.0 was introduced to the public.
In 2015, the Soylent team accepted an investment of $20 million from Lerer Ventures, Index Ventures, and David Friedberg, CEO of the Climate Corporation. The investment was led by Andressen Horowitz.
Pretty huge investment into sci-fi-esque foodstuff, right?
Now, the Soylent team is kicking it (and producing and shipping Soylent products) in downtown Los Angeles., which means Rhinehart is a long way from his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.
Soylent is completely animal-free. It was a “neutral taste profile by design,” so that you can adjust the flavoring to your choosing.
Its nutritional design includes protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and vitamins and minerals such as potassium, iron, and calcium.
So, pretty much everything the doctor would tell you to eat.
Rhinehart has often described as Soylent as the future of food, or maybe even the final destination of food and cooking as we know it.
“The future of food is not the return to an agrarian society but the transcendence of it,” he wrote in 2015. “We will make food so cheap only the rich will cook.”
Soylent isn’t that expensive to begin with. As of right now, July 2016, the price for a monthly subscription from Soylent drink is $32.50, down from $34 per month.
A monthly subscription of Soylent powder will run you $54 per month, down from $64.
And there isn’t much in the way of cooking, either. Every customer who signs up for a monthly subscription gets their own pitcher and scoop with their first shipment. Just put some water in the powder, or just drink, and you’re done.
So they may already be on their way to revolutionary food.
Of course, are you ready to give up food to join the revolution?
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