Tuesday Q&A with Rob Rhinehart of Soylent

by Craig Cannon1/27/2017

During the batch we invite a speaker in for every Tuesday dinner. Rob Rhinehart of Soylent joined us during the W17 batch.

Other speakers this batch are: Tracy Young and Ralph Gootee of PlanGrid; Mike Maples of Floodgate; Ron Conway of SV Angel; Patrick Collison of Stripe; Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk of Airbnb; Tobi Lutke of Shopify; and others.

If you have specific questions for a speaker, send them to Macro@YCombinator.com.

How do you describe Soylent?
Healthy fast food.

What’s a common misconception about Soylent you’d like to clarify?
People are often pleasantly surprised that it can taste good and be nutritious, especially our new flavors. Also Soylent is not a commitment. You don’t need to give up regular food to use it. It’s just another option when you want something fast and filling.

What’s the hardest part about making a food product vs electronics?
There is more variation in biological ingredients than electronics, but we still manage to make a consistent product. Also the safety and quality controls are much more strict, as they should be.

You pivoted after YC. What were you making before?
A wireless network for small connected devices.

Why did you pivot?
Functional food meets a universal basic need and has more potential for repeat customers.

How have you found the fundraising process for a food product?
Fundraising is the worst.

What were the most meaningful learnings you’ve had while working on Soylent?
Better is a friendship based on business than a business based on friendship

What’s the most impactful thing you’ve done in terms of selling Soylent?

If you weren’t working on Soylent, what would you be working on?
Affordable housing.

Any advice for people?
Always take the high road.

Last question. What books do you recommend?
The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov
How to Be Rich by J Paul Getty
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius


  • Craig Cannon

    Craig is the Director of Content at YC.