San Francisco-based nutrition startup Ample Foods announced today that it has raised an additional $2 million in funds for the seed round, led by the VC firm Slow Ventures. The company has received previous investments from 500 Startups, Hawkshead Capital and Compound. In 2016, Ample raised $370K on Indiegogo, making it the site’s top-funded nutrition campaign of all time.
Ample CEO Connor Young founded Ample Foods to help his friends working long hours at startups eat healthy, convenient meals which didn’t require any planning. And planning they truly do not need. The drinks come in powdered form, so all you have to do is add milk or water and shake. Which means that Ample’s meals don’t expire like other liquid meal replacements; all but one of the varieties have 10-month shelf lives, with the vegan option lasting for 8 months. So you can keep one tucked into your desk at work for when you need to work through lunch, or even bring it with you on an airline (they’re TSA compliant).
Each bottle is 400 calories and contains 25 grams of protein, 2 to 6 grams of sugar and 10 to 15 grams of fiber. They contain whey protein and collagen from grass-fed cows (except for the vegan version), probiotics, carbohydrates and healthy fats from nuts, chia seeds, and coconut. They also feature some more obscure ingredients, like organic Jerusalem artichoke insulin and acacia fiber. All drinks are gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO.
In addition to their original product, the startup also offers Ample V, a vegan option which skips the whey, collagen, and honey, and Ample K, which is aimed at low carb, high fat ketogenic diet followers.
With these two options, Ample is hoping to cash in on two dietary trends: ketogenic and plant-based. “We wanted to make sure we hit not just a different market with each drink, but a different use case,” said Young. “We don’t do one-size-fits-all nutrition.” Orian Research estimated that the value of the global ketogenic food market was $5.07 billion in 2017, and forecasted it would grow to $6.5 billion by 2023. At the same time, demand for plant-based foods has been steadily climbing.
Ample Original costs $6/bottle, with Ample V and Ample K priced at $7 and $8 each, respectively. (Prices reduce slightly if you buy in bulk.) That’s roughly double the price of Soylent, though I suppose those acacia fibers don’t come cheap.
The meal replacement business has been steadily increasing over the past few years. Soylent recently expanded its retail operations through a partnership with Walmart (despite a few obstacles last year with recalls, leadership changes, and getting banned in Canada). Meal-in-a-bottle Bear Squeeze, which is both ketogenic and vegan, broke records for first-day funding on Indiegogo (they have yet to ship). And a few months ago bone broth supplement company Ancient Nutrition raised $103 million. These types of drinks cater towards health-conscious people working long hours, who don’t have time to stop for a meal (much less cook one) but still want to have a balanced diet.
“We’re selling to really busy people who care about health,” Young told The Spoon. “No matter how much they care, it’s difficult to keep up with the latest dietary trends. We’re simplifying the process from a product level.” He also told me that they hope to introduce a heavier focus on health and nutrition knowledge as they grow.
The latest investment brings Ample’s total funding to $4 million. If you want to try it out, or stock up for the inevitable zombie apocalypse, you can purchase Ample’s powdered drinks on its website.