One year ago, Rob Rhinehart was a computer scientist and YC-backed entrepreneur who happened to be sick of cooking his own food. Today he’s an entrepreneur with a disruptive startup aimed at creating the perfect meal replacement drink. After netting over $1 million in a crowdfunding effort, Rhinehart and the rest of the team at Soylent can boast another funding milestone: a $1.5 million seed round from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz and Lerer Ventures.
The team plans to use the money to begin self-manufacturing the product. They’re also going to hire a culinary director to help improve the taste and texture of the product.
Soylent now shares some of the same VCs that were early investors in CrowdTilt, a Y Combinator-backed crowdfunding platform that facilitated the Soylent campaign. Rhinehart ended up turning to Crowdtilt product Crowdhoster to execute his rewards-based raise.
The campaign has been raising funds in perpetuity ever since the “official” close. This is one of the intrinsic benefits of non-traditional rewards-based crowdfunding platforms; limitations like extra success fees and limited timelines don’t apply.
Rhinehart also made some shrewd moves that include savvy media outreach and inviting backers to discuss the product out in the open. In short, it was a brilliantly-executed campaign and provides an interesting case study for crowdfunders interested in bucking some of the limitations of the Kickstarters and Indiegogos of the world.
Incredibly, Soylent now joins the ranks of consumer products such as the Pebble smart watch and Ouya game console. It’s an elite and exclusive group of campaigners that used crowdfunding successfully and later found buy-in from venture capitalists. It will give Soylent the resources they need to make a big push into the market.
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