Bulletproof, the startup behind the trendy but hotly debated Bulletproof coffee — featuring grass-fed butter and energy-rich oil — announced today that it has taken on $9 million in venture funding.
By selling its products online, in grocery stores, and in its own custom-branded stores, Bulletproof wants to increase the brand’s popularity around the world. Hence the infusion of venture capital, which follows funding deals for companies like Blue Bottle Coffee, Philz Coffee, and before that, Starbucks and Jamba Juice.
“I want to build a $1 billion global brand, not an e-commerce website that reached a few hundred thousand people,” Bulletproof founder and chief executive — and former enterprise software guy — Dave Asprey told VentureBeat. “There are more risks by going with a venture model, but I feel an obligation to share knowledge like this. Because I was fat, my brain wasn’t working, my body hurt all the time, and I didn’t find this information, so I believe that when I’m as successful as I can be with Bulletproof that there will be measurable changes in the quality of our nation’s health. But yeah, that takes money.”
The startup offers a whole line of available products, including oil, coffee beans, proteins, supplements, and even a diet book. Today there’s a new product called “FATwater” to provide hydration.
But it all started with that light brown, creamy coffee.
Asprey posted the recipe for his mixture on his website in 2010, after being inspired by a yak butter tea he tried during a trip to Tiber in 2004. The recipe calls for “Upgraded Coffee,” made from mold-free beans, grass-fed butter; and “Brain Octane” oil, which is made of coconut and palm kernels.
Asprey insists on the ingredient mix. Putting coconut oil in your coffee “just isn’t Bulletproof,” he said. And the grass-fed butter provides beta-carotene, omega 3, vitamin A, and so on. As for the beans, well, Asprey claims his company has a plantation and sophisticated processing equipment in place in Guatemala to prevent toxins from creeping in.
“If they ferment the coffee and allow things to grow, toxins get in there,” Asprey told VentureBeat. “You tend to feel that cranky, jittery crash that comes from coffee.” That’s what he wants to prevent people from feeling.
Asprey is particularly sensitive to his body’s response to things he consumes. He spent 15 years and $300,000 “hacking” himself and getting data on his body performance, he said. He also lost 100 pounds and gained IQ points, as well as greater mental awareness.
If that makes him out to be a bit of a nerd, well, that’s OK, because he is. Over the years, he’s held roles at Trend Micro, Citrix, and Exodus Communications. After a stint as an entrepreneur in residence at Trinity Ventures in 2010, he became a cofounder of health wearable startup Basis, which Intel acquired last year.
But Asprey goes out of his way not to make statements about health benefits.
“I focus this stuff around human performance and around things that are non-medical claims,” he said.
Trinity Ventures led the round in Bulletproof, which began in 2011 and now has more than 30 employees.
Asprey expects the first Bulletproof location — on Main Street in Santa Monica, Calif. — to open soon.
“I’ve never been more hopeful,” he said about the new developments.