Soylent customers aren’t very happy right now.
The company’s order backlog is massive, and still U.S.-only. New orders are shipping only every five to six months, which, if you’re the meal-skipping, body-hacker type concerned with things like hyper-efficiency, is a definite buzzkill. That’s mostly because the meal replacement drink of the future drummed up more hype than it was prepared to handle. And while it managed to raise a $1.5 million funding round in late 2013, it hasn’t been able to keep up with customer demand.
Today, though, Soylent is announcing something pretty significant: A $20 million seed A round led (again) by Andreessen Horowitz, with additional participation from Lerer Ventures, Index Ventures, and a few other individual investors. Andreessen’s Chris Dixon will also join the company’s board.
The idea is that, with the additional funding and guidance, Soylent will be able to expand its manufacturing and shipping capabilities. Already, the company says it is opening up two additional manufacturing sites—which are managed by third parties—to ramp up production. “Reaching real-time fulfillment is our top priority,” Soylent CEO Rob Rhinehart explains to me in an email. “Although we’re unable to provide a precise estimate of when this will occur, our team is working diligently to ensure that our customers receive their Soylent as quickly as possible.”
Rhinehart wouldn’t say how large the current backlog is, although it is “significant,” and the company is “making some serious headway.” And, at least for now, Soylent will continue to rely on third-party manufacturers to put its nutrition kits together.
“We plan to bring much of quality control in house in order to make sure stringent quality control standards are met while simultaneously improving production speed,” says Rhinehart. “In time more aspects of manufacturing may be brought in house, but our main focus will be the research and development of ever more novel and efficient foodstuffs and ingredients.”
More (and presumably less gassy?) Soylent varieties are on the horizon, in other words. At least whenever they get to you.