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How to Design a Bottle

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When we introduced Soylent Drink in August of 2015, we wanted to get our new format into the hands of excited customers as soon as possible. At the time, the best option was to use existing, off-the-shelf stock bottles. After all, the innovation was inside the bottle, and the bottle was just a bottle. But in the same spirit of iterative design that inspires us to continuously improve our Drink formulas, we immediately began working on improving the packaging that Drink came in, as well. After nearly two years of development, we have finally cracked it: a bottle that packs over 15% more efficiently in a box, introduces a simple snap cap opening, fits more neatly in your fridge, dents less, and still provides the same complete nutrition you have come to expect from Soylent.

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Our new Sqround bottle next to our old, less efficient bottle. Clean!

Before we dive into the details of our new bottle, let’s talk about why most bottles are round. Many internet commenters have correctly identified that beverage containers are often round due to pressure - a pressurized cylindrical container pushes outward with equal force in all directions. This is crucial for pressurized beverages. However, Soylent is not pressurized. The number one reason this container was round was it is the simplest bottle shape to move through a production line. Round bottles are easier to wash, move smoothly around corners, and don’t have a front or back, making them easy to label. However, round bottles do introduce some problems after production - problems we wanted to solve. Plus, we like a challenge.

Here at Soylent, we are all about creating the most efficient food of the future, and when you’re dealing with direct to consumer shipping, wasted space is the enemy. One of the main drivers for a sqround bottle was packaging efficiency. Until we invent teleportation, Soylent will likely be packed in a rectangular box. Since circles and right angles don’t really play well together, we were wasting a bit of space. A square shape could minimize the wasted space in the box by replacing empty air with delicious Soylent, resulting in a more-than 15% smaller (and more efficient) box! That’s one point for sqround.

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The original round bottle we used for Soylent Drink was designed to work smoothly in a specific manufacturing process (aseptic) and to support the weight of a few layers of boxes upon it while it travelled peacefully on a pallet, in a truck, headed to a 7-Eleven or Target. Soylent’s direct-to-consumer shipping model, however, introduces a great deal of unpredictability and abuse to the system. We can’t ask your delivery person to gingerly place a more than 40 pound box on your front stoop. Because of this, you may have noticed a few of the bottles you’ve enjoyed in the past had a nicely sized dent on the shoulder or around the bottom. Well, two flat sides are less likely to dent one another than are two cylinders. Sqround: 2, Circles: 0.

Not anymore, Shubhagata.

While we’re on the topic of dents, let’s talk about paneling. In the past, most of our bottles arrived to customers with a large flat section on one side of a bottle. This is called paneling. Paneling occurs for a variety of reasons including: temperature change, elevation and pressure change, or oxygen absorption by the product. Whatever the reason, the amount of air in the bottle fluctuates after filling, usually creating a slight vacuum inside. In the presence of this vacuum, the weakest section of the bottle (the long, straight section of the profile) will pull in and create what looks like a dent, or panel, in a round bottle. When a sqround bottle faces these same forces, it actually becomes more square, arriving to the customer with four beautiful, intentionally flat sides. Game, sqround.

So why sqround? Why not a crisp cornered square bottle, you ask? Obviously, a perfect square would be most efficient in terms of packing. Squares, however, come with their own set of challenges. When bottles travel down the manufacturing line on their way to your door, they are constantly moving from single file to big groups, around curves and corners, and jostling into place. A bunch of round bottles will roll off one another and travel smoothly around corners, but a bunch of square bottles have a tendency to lock up with one another, kind of like a losing game of Tetris.

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Say, this kinda looks like one of those newfangled Soylent bottles!

By generously rounding the corners of a square (to the industry-coined “sqround”) we solve these production line issues. In fact, the bottles are designed closer to round than you see in the finished product, but after the paneling takes place, they pull into the clean shape you’ll eventually hold in your hand. There were a few other important constraints that we had to consider like overall dimensions and the neck of the bottle remaining unchanged. Oh, and we wanted to finally do away with that pesky plastic wrap over the cap. Taking all of this into consideration, the fun work could begin.

We explored a wide range of reference material and design inspiration when sitting down to figure out the overall look and feel of the future of our packaging. One of the first images we conjured up was the milkman. Door to door staple food delivery was a hallmark of the 50’s, with milk, eggs, meats, and other perishables delivered right to your front stoop. Well now it’s 2017 and we’re delivering the only staple food you need right to your door. It made sense, then, to mimic some of the shapes and curves from the packaging of one of the most ubiquitous staple foods of modern history - the humble milk bottle.

Another reference point was Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. This classic is ripe with timeless design and a beautiful image of the future (visually speaking, at least - the whole Hal bit is a little more frightening than what we’re hoping for). The sets and props were so thoughtfully and impeccably designed that they are still relevant today, almost 50 years later. There are also some great designs for prepackaged space foods sprinkled throughout the film.

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Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

Lastly, we did our best to follow the “less but better” teachings of 1960’s Braun designs. These enduring designs are known for their stripped down features and clean lines. No unnecessary buttons or extraneous curves, just what you need; everything in its place.

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Braun designs by Dieter Rams

This bottle has been in the works for over two years now, and we’re so thrilled to finally get it into your hands. We put a lot of thought into each detail, but in the spirit of iteration (and maybe a little bit of perfectionism), we can promise you that we won’t stop improving the design of the bottle, just as we won’t stop improving the formula it holds. Let’s all raise a sqround bottle and toast the future!

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About the Author: John Zelek is Senior Creative at Rosa Foods. He works on all kinds of creative projects for Soylent, including the new bottles.

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mcabrams
62 days ago
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Los Angeles
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Soylent to Test Ready-to-Drink Meals at 18 Participating 7-Eleven® Stores

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Rosa Foods, the makers of Soylent, today announced that the Company will test its suite of nutritionally complete, ready-to-drink meals at 18 participating 7-Eleven® stores in the Greater Los Angeles area beginning Monday, July 10, 2017. The 7-Eleven locations currently plan to sell three Soylent flavors: Cacao, Cafe Coffiest and the new Cafe Chai.

“It is exciting that the demand for our breakthrough line of drinkable meals has moved beyond e-commerce,” said Rob Rhinehart, Soylent Founder and CEO. “This new collaboration with 7-Eleven will make Soylent an even better option for customers looking for convenience without sacrificing their health. We are thrilled to be working alongside the talented 7-Eleven team and look forward to building our retail presence nationwide.”

The 7-Eleven deal marks the first step in Soylent’s retail distribution plan. Products will be available at the following 7-Eleven locations in the Greater Los Angeles Area, subject to change:

  • 1100 North La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles
  • 7600 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles
  • 5600 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles
  • 5279 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles
  • 10834 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles
  • 11656 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
  • 11666 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles
  • 3018 West Manchester Blvd., Inglewood
  • 610 South Rampart Blvd., Los Angeles
  • 3450 Overland Ave., Los Angeles
  • 1516 Lincoln Blvd., Venice
  • 630 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
  • 4436 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City
  • 5880 West Manchester Avenue, Los Angeles
  • 1519 South Bundy Dr., Los Angeles
  • 2541 South Barrington Ave., Los Angeles
  • 11299 West Washington Blvd., Culver City
  • 11075 West Olympic Blvd., West Los Angeles

“Soylent is a differentiated product for the on-the-go, millennial. It is a great example of a product that has reached online success in a short period, and we are excited to collaborate with Soylent to bring the drinkable meals to our stores in a single serving,” said Todd McFarland, 7-Eleven senior product director for vault.

Soylent’s line of ready-to-drink products are designed from the ground-up to provide the vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates and protein that the body needs - all in a convenient, ready-to-drink package.

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mcabrams
66 days ago
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SOYLENT KICKSTARTS THE SUMMER WITH NEW CAFE LINE FLAVORS

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The Soylent team is thrilled to announce the latest flavors in its suite of nutritionally complete, ready-to-drink products: Cafe Vanilla and Cafe Chai. These selections join Coffiest in Soylent’s new Cafe line of caffeinated beverages, now available for purchase at www.soylent.com in the U.S. and Canada. Sales on Amazon.com will begin in the coming weeks.

“Getting a good breakfast is a pain point for many people. With Coffiest, we made it easy for our customers to start the day right,” said Soylent Founder and CEO Rob Rhinehart. “Now we’ve improved the variety of our enhanced beverages with new flavors.”

Cafe Vanilla and Cafe Chai, like their predecessors, are designed from the ground-up to provide the vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, and protein that the body needs - all in a convenient, ready-to-drink package. Cafe Vanilla’s essence of roasted coffee with just a hint of vanilla, alongside Cafe Chai’s robust blend of aromatic spices, are the perfect companions to Coffiest. All flavors in the new Cafe line continue to provide the added boost of caffeine in conjunction with the relaxing benefits of L-theanine to promote increased cognitive performance. Each bottle includes:

  1. 20 percent of the daily recommended values for all essential vitamins and mineral.
  2. A macronutrient profile of 47 percent calories from lipids, 33 percent calories from carbohydrates and 20 percent calories from protein.
  3. Approximately 150 mg of caffeine in Cafe Vanilla and 30 mg in Cafe Chai.
  4. 75 mg of L-Theanine in Cafe Vanilla and 25 mg in Cafe Chai.

Each case of 12 bottles can be purchased online at www.soylent.com and Amazon.com for $37.05 USD for subscribers and $39 USD for one-time orders. A portion of all Soylent sales will go to the World Food Program USA. For specific inquiries related or additional information on the Soylent Cafe line and comprehensive product information pages, please visit our FAQ.

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mcabrams
83 days ago
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Los Angeles
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One Million Meals and Counting

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Throughout 2016, Soylent donated over 1 million meals, but we won’t stop there. Today we are launching Soylent for Good, our company-wide initiative that incorporates our collective efforts to combat food insecurity, so that we can begin to forge a path that enables us and our community to tackle hunger in new, innovative ways. We at Soylent want to live in a world where everyone has access to complete nutrition.

The building blocks of Soylent for Good began when we first entered the fight against malnutrition, just over a year ago. When we announced our support for World Food Program USA (WFP USA), our financial support for the organization helped provide hundreds of thousands of school meals around the globe. In 2017, we will continue to improve the food system through innovation and renew our support for WFP USA in their mission to make hunger history. Our funding will be directed to WFP’s Innovation Accelerator to help scale high potential solutions to hunger worldwide. In addition to our international endeavors, Soylent donated hundreds of thousands of meals to food banks across the nation, and in California, we helped the California Association of Foodbanks rescue tens of thousands of pounds of fresh produce.

It doesn’t require visiting a developing country to see people suffering from malnutrition - although we’ve been to several this past year. Soylent is headquartered in Downtown Los Angeles, and we see how hunger affects our local community every day. According to Feeding America, “Los Angeles County is home to the largest estimated population of food-insecure people – nearly 1.5 million – a 14.7% food-insecurity rate.” We are committed to putting a major dent in this unacceptable statistic by working with city officials, local food banks, and committed individuals and organizations. It takes a village to tackle an issue as pervasive as food insecurity, and Soylent strives to be a responsible Los Angeles business that can help address one of the most solvable problems - hunger. Accordingly, we will work with any food bank in Los Angeles that wishes to partake in the Soylent for Good program.

With our current product portfolio, we are also working with doctors in some of the most respected hospitals in the country to help their patients eat and maintain a complete diet. We will continue to develop new, ready-to-use, nutritionally-complete products aimed to provide much needed nutrition around the globe.

No person should be worried about finding their next meal. Soylent for Good is our contribution to the fight against hunger across the globe. If you’d like to get involved, please email us at Good@soylent.com.

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mcabrams
91 days ago
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Introducing the Soylent Powder Tub

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Today we are excited to unveil a new packaging design in our Soylent lineup - Powder Tub. This form factor has been a long time request by the our user base. We are always listening and reading feedback about current products and desires for futures designs. With this new form factor comes Soylent Powder’s entry onto Amazon as it joins our suite of Soylent Drink products.

Powder Tub will contain 12 full meals at the traditional 400 kcal per meal serving size and 24 meals at the smaller 200 kcal serving size. Unlike our pouches that are designed to be made in our pitcher, Tub was designed for users who make smaller batches of Soylent. To make one serving of Soylent Powder from the Tub simply measure out 1 / 2 scoops into a mixer of your choice, add water, shake and enjoy.

Soylent has strong DIY roots, and many of our users enjoy adding extra ingredients to their daily mixes. This new form factor will add another layer of simplicity to your Soylent meals. With this in mind we have updated the serving size to reflect 200 kcal along with a 400 kcal serving size. For recipe ideas head over to our Pinterest page, share your recipes online and tag us.

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mcabrams
96 days ago
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Soylent Closes $50 Million Series B Round Led by GV

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Soylent today announced the completion of a $50 million Series B financing round led by GV (formerly Google Ventures) with participation from Tao Capital Partners, as well as existing investors, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. Soylent has received a total of $74.5 million in funding to date. Previous investors in the Company include Y Combinator and Alexis Ohanian, a co-founder of Reddit. With this latest round of financing, Andy Wheeler, General Partner at GV, joins Soylent’s Board of Directors.

“We’re thrilled to add GV to Soylent’s community of investors, customers, and team members who see the importance of developing healthy, functional foods,” said Rob Rhinehart, Soylent Founder and CEO. “This funding will enable us to expand our current product offerings, support our expansion efforts into traditional retail and international territories, and further our goal of bringing Soylent products to people around the world.”

“Soylent is addressing one of the biggest issues we face today: access to complete, affordable nutrition,” said GV General Partner, Andy Wheeler. “As one of the pioneers in this space, Soylent is tackling this problem head on with progressive thinking and a clear strategy that has led to outstanding growth.”

Soylent launched in 2013 with more than $3 million from the largest crowdfunded food project in history. The Company has maintained consistent, strong sales growth. In the first quarter of 2017, net revenue nearly doubled over the same quarter in the prior year. Soylent’s suite of products has grown beyond its original Powder (now on version 1.8), to ready-to-drink meals in 2015, flavor expansions, and its debut on Amazon Launchpad last year. For specific inquiries regarding Soylent’s suite of products, in addition to comprehensive FAQ pages, please visit www.soylent.com.

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mcabrams
138 days ago
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