Soylent, maker of the icky-tasting meal-replacement paste of the same name, has raised a fresh $20 million in funding today.
Soylent is a shake/paste (depending on your definition) that is intended to replace the need for eating healthy meals that actually taste like food. However, many have criticized Soylent on that point, instead calling it a meal supplement rather than a replacement.
The news was first announced by Andreessen Horowitz partner Chris Dixon, whose firm led the round of funding. Dixon indicates that the company — which is apparently profitable and not in immediate need of investment — plans to use the new capital on advancing the scientific claims of its meal-replacement formula, as well as to grow the community of Soylent customers that share recipes and other health-related tips.
“Soylent inverts the Big Food business model, spending nothing on advertising and distributing solely through e-commerce,” Dixon wrote on his blog. “The belief is that the Internet has made people smarter, and that the old tactics of selling junk food using clever advertising will be increasingly ineffective. We have all sorts of food-related problems in the world — malnutrition, diabetes, and obesity, to name a few. Part of the solution to these problems is providing people with better scientific research, and more food choices that are convenient, nutritious, and affordable.”
Rumors of Soylent raising money first popped up last week and indicated that the company was getting a $10 million round at at $100 million valuation, as VentureBeat previously reported. And while this isn’t your typical tech company (or really, much of a tech company at all by most standards), there are a few big reasons investors are interested in seeing Soylent become a success — chief among them that Soylent could potentially help provide sustenance in areas of the world that don’t have enough food to feed the population. Also, a month of Soylent ($70-$85) is much cheaper than a month of buying regular groceries.
Founded in 2013, Soylent has raised a total of $21.5 million in funding to date from Andreessen Horowitz, Lerer Ventures, and Index Ventures.