Yesterday I had a bottle of Soylent and a Quest Bar for lunch.
It was filling, functional, and depending on who you ask / what else I have been known to eat for lunch it was quite healthy.
I really like both companies a lot.
For those unfamiliar, Soylent is a meal replacement drink and powder that’s aptly named after the 1973 film Soylent Green. Quest Bars are protein bars that taste like junk food, but are actually nutritious and aren’t loaded with additives.
They’re also both behemoths!
Two quick stats:
Quest Nutrition: 3-Year Growth Rate of 57,347%!!!! via INC
Soylent: “The company has grown exponentially since its 2013 seed round and currently generates millions of dollars per month in subscription revenues.” – Business Insider
It’s crazy to think that Soylent was already doing millions per month in subscriptions before the BI article came out. Now they have $20mm more in funding from a16z and they released their pre-made easier to consume version. I wonder if sales went up by 3x or more?
Anyway in a very short amount of time, both companies have transformed their industries and transplanted the major players like Cliff Bars, Power Bars, Muscle Milk or those Ensure Shakes that your grandma drinks.
In my attempt to copy their success / reverse funnel hack them, I’ve been asking myself lately what allowed them to be so successful?
Neither were first, second or third movers.
But they did two things:
1.) They took the existing product and made it cool.
This is what Ensure ads look like:
It looks like something your parents would have in the fridge at home.
And that’s good, because that’s the market they’re after.
But as a nutritional meal-replacement shake, old people are not the only who experience utility from the option.
There are tons of biohackers, programmers, students, biz hustlers, artists, athletes, musicians, and other people out there who are just too busy to eat or hate their options.
Every single one of those groups benefits from a meal replacement, but there was none marketed towards them until Soylent was released.
Now they don’t even spend money on ads. Instead they go after organic opportunities like talking to Stephen Colbert.
That’s really cool and it’s exactly how you get in front of your audience! This actually grows the segment (aka recruits more people interested in meal replacement) instead of taking away market share from Ensure and others.
**How to use this: **
I talk to entrepreneurs all of the time who are brainstorming new business ideas. They are going after things that are “revolutionary” and “distruptive”.
This is really hard to do especially if you’re new startups and business.
So I really like the idea of looking at big niches that have a well-defined target market.
Then ask yourself…
Is there a way that I can improve the existing product and provide utility to a new audience?
Remember, it doesn’t matter how established these brands are, Quest and Soylent have proven that you can play in the same league.
Then maybe by making something cool again, you’ll have your own multi-million dollar business.
Shout out to my 10th grade english teacher (Mrs. Houck???). She let the class go wild discussing ‘Lord of the Flies’, let me read ‘Ender’s Game’ during lectures for no reason and yes eventually showed us Soylent Green. No we didn’t read the book, she just thought we should see the film. What an amazing woman.
I know this post isn’t that very well thought out or organized. I’m trying to get into the habit of hitting publish faster. There are like 14 drafts of ideas that I started and never finished. Maybe one day the readership here will grow and I will be forced to put out better content and hire an editor. Subscribing, commenting and yelling will probably encourage that. Until then, you’re getting idea vomit!
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