image: Derek Mead/VICE
Less than a year ago, Rob Rhinehart published a blog post explaining how he had stopped eating food and begun living entirely on a greyish, macro-nutritious cocktail. Today, he told Motherboard that he's sold more than $2 million worth of Soylent to tens of thousands of post-food consumers worldwide—and that it's on track to ship next month.
"We have crossed 2,000,000 in revenue from over 20,000 customers, with more every day," Rhinehart told me. "International demand is really picking up as well."
This despite the fact that Soylent isn't technically on the market yet, and has thus far only been available to beta testers. Rhinehart's company spent much of last year tinkering with the formula—the version he tried first was deficient in sulfur, and contained since-jettisoned ingredients like cow whey. But there's been a steadily building crescendo of publicity—both positive and negative—around the project since its inception.
In June, his team launched a crowd-funding campaign, hoping to attract $100,000 to get the product off the ground. By the end of the month, they'd brought in $800,000. Weeks later, they'd sold over $1 million worth of preorders.
Now, after a couple of delays, Soylent is ready to ship to the masses.
"Soylent begins shipping in late February and we will satisfy all outstanding orders throughout March," Rob said in an email. "We are also making sure to overproduce in order to meet re-orders and growth."
The delays were instituted to allow Rhinehart and his team time to finalize the Soylent mixture.
"The final formula has been made public via the Soylent blog and personally I find it quite pleasant. It took over 20 revisions but this is something we had to get right the first time," he said.
On top of the $2 million in orders, Soylent has benefited from a small influx of venture capital. "Including the original Y Combinator investment (we have not reincorporated), we have raised a little over $1.5 million," Rob said. "I am pleased that we have more revenue than private investment."
In August, I tested the product for myself, and used Soylent as my only form of sustenance for a month straight. While I harbor some concerns about the product, I emerged just as physically healthy—if a few pounds lighter—at the end of the trial. In a recent conversation, Rob assured me that he's planning to subject Soylent to clinical trials. He also says he's starting a "very exciting research pipeline" and hopes to invest in some "rather ambitious projects."
As for Soylent, I asked him where he hoped it'd be by the end of the year. His single-word reply?