LivBlends was a perfect food startup for Silicon Valley – a no-mess, high tech, healthy snack solution that fit nicely into the cadre of employee perks offered by the area’s companies. A Y Combinator smoothie startup, LivBlends was founded in 2013 as a delivery-based business, selling containers of fresh smoothies to the chefs at popular tech companies like Twitter and Stripe. Some questioned the business model and overall sustainability of fresh smoothie delivery, but LivBlends was quietly working on a much bigger product – at the time, an unnamed device that made smoothies and cleaned itself.
Fast forward to 2016 – meet Replenish. The evolved, renamed company formerly known as LivBlends, Replenish is still a food startup, but instead of delivering smoothies, they’ve made a machine that blends them for you. The Replenish machine is a self-cleaning blender that takes prepackaged fruit and vegetable cups and produces ready-to-drink smoothies. Dubbed the “Keurig for smoothies,” the group is going after the commercial market and inviting businesses to place Replenish machines in their break rooms and cafeterias for free. Then, for a fee, customers can order pods in a variety of flavors and forms, including fruit, coffee, spice and vegetable based. According to TechCrunch, each pod costs between $3.50 and $5.00 depending on what’s in them.
In its early days, Replenish had to prove itself to the market and would set up pop up smoothie giveaways in office buildings. Eventually, the service got so popular, the company moved to subscription models with early clients like Uber. Now, Replenish hosts machines in some of the most popular tech employers in San Francisco and has set its sites on the broader B2B market in the U.S.
How big is the market for fresh, in-office smoothies? “Our first sweet spot is the small, medium size office of 10-100 people. There are about 1.1M offices in the U.S. in that range,” the company wrote in an early blog post. Using those numbers along with average cup revenue and daily penetration, Replenish estimates their market size at $8.2 billion. Beyond medium sized office-based companies, the startup hopes to go after other on-the-go places where the convenience of a smoothie is an easy sell, including gyms, hotels, malls and airports. The ingredients in the pods are healthy – the founders’ mission was to create a better alternative to the traditional office snack – and contain no added sugar and are often organic. The pods themselves are even good for the planet and 100% recyclable.
The creation of the Keurig has spawned all kinds of pod-based beverage companies, including food tech darling Juicero – or, the Keurig for fresh juice. Juicero has raised $70 million in startup funding so far, and unlike Replenish has gone after both the consumer and B2B market with a consumer kitchen model currently on sale. However, in an early blog post, the Replenish founders did add, “The second phase of the company is building a consumer machine that can sit on any kitchen counter.”
Replenish just completed a $3.8 million round of funding and is currently taking pre-orders from companies who want to be early adopters of the self-cleaning smoothie machines on their website.