In a world where seemingly every other kitchen hardware startup has a pitch for a Keurig-esque business model of recurring revenue on their investor deck, it helps when your cofounder has actually sold a company to Keurig for hundreds of millions.
That’s the case with Blix, a startup cofounded by longtime beverage executive Eduoard Sterngold, who previously was the CEO of a company called Bevyz that was acquired by Keurig Green Mountain in 2014 for approximately $220 million.
It’s this type of pedigree that has no doubt helped Blix raise funding and build a team on the way towards launching a new blender-based food system that, yes, uses a proprietary cup-system to make a variety of soups, spreads and smoothies.
I caught up with the company’s president Ariel Sterngold (son of Blix CEO Eduoard) by phone, who told me that after rolling out the product in trials in 2019, they are pushing out the product nationwide over the course of 2020.
So how does the Blix work? The system is built around a blender and a single-use recyclable cups filled with pre-portioned and packaged ingredients. The ingredients are frozen using a technique called IQF (Individual Quick Freezing) where each ingredient -- a strawberry, piece of squash, etc -- is frozen independently before they are assembled.
The most unique part of the Blix system is the lid, which includes a single-use blade to chop up and mix the meal. The blade for each meal is developed specifically for that meal. By reading the included RFID chip, the system can determine the meal for each cup and adjust the blend accordingly.
One of the things that first struck me when looking at Blix were the words “single-use,” which in today’s world of increased focus on sustainability seems like a problem. Sterngold told me that the system, including the blade on the lid, are fully recyclable, which does mean it’s better than Keurig pods, which only are only partially recyclable. Still, compostable would be better, and reusable would be event better than that.
The main advantage Blix pitches is its ease-of-use as compared to normal smoothie making, which usually requires some chopping and measuring of ingredients and, if it’s a normal blender, a little clean up time. You’ll have to pay for that convenience, however, as each cup clocks in at $7.49 to $7.99 depending on the plan.
Yes, there are subscription plans and, as of now, it’s the only way to get Blix. According to Sterngold, they experimented with a la carte and subscriptions over the past year and found subscription was the preferred method. The subscription plans come in six or twelve cup a week plans and can be paused any time.
What’s in the cups? Right now, users of the Blix can choose from up to twelve smoothie varieties, three types of soup and three types of spreads (two types of hummus and a pesto).
Currently cups are only being shipped on the east coast, but Sterngold told me they plan to open up with a second copacker in California (they currently have one one in New York state) later this year. The products are packed with dry ice and, according to the company, can be shipped across state lines.
I’ve heard lots of pitches for proprietary pod systems over the years. Outside of the coffee space, most have struggled to gain traction. However, like many, I do avoid making smoothies and other blender food largely because the clean up is a pain. Add in that is makes soups and spreads, and I admit the Blix is intriguing.
That said, given that I’m focused on reducing the amount of packaging waste I add into the the wastestream, I’m not super excited about the idea of single use container anything. While Blix say they are fully recyclable, compostable would be better, and resuable preferred. And this is even before we get to the shipping packaging or the RFID tag included with the cup.
In a way Blix reminds me of Daily Harvest, which offers frozen, pre-portioned ingredient cups for smoothies and soups, only without the hardware. Like Blix, Daily Harvest offers subscription plans for its single-use cups, and packaging is recyclable.
A closer analog might be Blendid, which launched a dedicated smoothie making ‘robot’ with a single-use cup system targeted at both smoothie shops and offices in 2016. The product never really took off, but that probably had more to do with not finding traction in the tough-to-crack office food market.
Will the Blix model of subscription food and blender land with consumers? We’ll soon see. The promise of the company’s ready-to-blend food combined with a proprietary blender system was enough for investors to put $13 million so far behind the company, a decent amount of backing in what have been relatively difficult days for hardware startups over the past year.
You can see how the Blix system works in the company-produced demo video below.