Startups have begun to take on the food market with gusto of late, and a slew of new companies are now looking to connect consumers with high-quality meals, especially on-demand. Many of these startups also happen to be taking a healthy approach, not only joining the movement to revolutionize the way food gets sourced and delivered, but, by improving access to products, drinks and supplements, help everyday people make healthier choices when it comes to their diet.
Whether it’s businesses that help people to plan meals, improve access to better foods by showing you the healthiest options at your local restaurants or by offering Birchbox-style subscription programs for healthy foods and snacks, investors have taken notice of the growing trend. Soylent, the nutritional drink and food substitute, for example, saw a flurry of headlines recently after raising more than $1 million via crowdfunding and after attracting an additional $1.5 million investment from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz among others.
And, if Soylent’s experimental food replacement formula doesn’t quite do it for you, not to worry, as the startup is just one of a growing list of names hustling to disrupt the industrial food system. With the launch of ALOHA today, we can add another name to the fray.
Founded by former nutritionists, health coaches and members of Google and Gilt, ALOHA has similar ambitions: The new health platform is on a mission to redefine the way consumers purchase nutritional supplements and bring a higher level of transparency to the health and wellness industry.
ALOHA also stands as yet another example of the increasing interest in food and healthy lifestyle businesses not only among startups but from investors as well, as the company launches today backed by over $4 million in venture capital. Contributing to the startup’s first investment were venture firms including First Round Capital, Highland Capital Partners, FF Angel, Khosla Ventures and Forerunner Ventures, as well as several angel investors, including Warby Parker co-founder, David Gilboa.
Like Soylent, ALOHA offers a nutritional supplement that can be consumed in drink form to help you get all those vitamins a body needs, but unlike the experimental project-turned-business, ALOHA offers a handful of products, which are meant to complement real food (and an actual diet) — rather than to replace your square meals. The startup also aims to provide a combination diet, offering nutrition supplements as well as readable health and nutrition content curated by industry experts. So, the other side of ALOHA is this “online magazine,” as the startup calls it, which essentially intends to provide a roadmap for people to learn how to forge a healthier lifestyle.
The startup is also taking cues from startups like Birchbox, Warby Parker and Quarterly in how it designs and packages its products. The company isn’t just trying to bring consumers a source for better supplements, it wants to appeal to consumers by trying to create products that show “elevated design aesthetic” — in other words, it isn’t just sending you supplement powder in the mail, it wants you to like the way it looks, too.
ALOHA is trying to be sleek and simple, a la Apple and Google’s web products and looks to be targeting the type of people who have money to spend on these types of products, not just your average slob like yours truly. Plus, the design or, really, the packaging is meant to emulate the brand itself — in that it’s relatively healthy for the environment. The box is 100 percent recyclable, made with recycled paper, is FSC-certified and manufactured using wind power, while the ink is water, carbon and vegetable-based.
The other key to ALOHA’s potential appeal lies in the fact that the bar has been pretty low for nutritional supplements as far as taste goes. Some may give you that daily dose of kale, mixed with some strange concoction of fruits and green vegetables, but all in all, supplements usually taste horrible and make you regret drinking them. Then there are those muscle or exercise supplements that give you the vague sense that you’d fail a performance-enhancing drug test were you asked to take one.
At launch, ALOHA is offering two core products, the “Foundation,” a five-pill supplement pack that is vegan, gluten-free and aims to be an effective complement to your healthy eating. A 30-day supply costs $95 and gives you the daily dose of vitamins that one should probably be consuming every day, like Vitamic C, D, E and your Omega 3s. The startup also offers what it calls “The Daily Good,” which is instead a whole-food power containing 14 ingredients in one pouch and costs $75 for a 30-day supply.
Created with help from herbalists, dieticians and a physician, the Daily Good’s supplement offers a mixture of greens like peas, spinach and wheatgrass, fruits and a bunch of other stuff (like mushrooms and yellow ginger) that is good for your bodyparts but isn’t offensive to your tastebuds — and doesn’t have sweeteners or other pesky additives. The creators also developed a patented drying process to reduce all of these healthy ingredients down to powder, sans the sweeteners, and spent most of their time ensuring that users can add the powders to (or mix them with) any drink. The idea is that you can add it to water to get a kind of herbal tea taste, or to smoothies, energy drinks or whatever you please.
It may not be capacity and speed-increasing hardware or software, but the ALOHA founders believe they’ve applied an appealing blend of science and nutritional voodoo with good-looking design, ease-of-use and online/offline commerce that will appeal to young, tech-savvy types. The founders want ALOHA to act as an all-in-one solution for wellness that inspires people to find a balance between work and life, healthy living and the alternative.
Of course, on that front there’s still a long way to go, and ultimately, the proof will be in the pudding — er pudding supplements.
For more, find ALOHA at home here.