“I don’t want to replace salads,” Connor Young, founder and CEO of Ample Meal, says, “I don’t want to replace your home-cooked meals.”
Ample, a non-GMO, gluten-free meal replacement shake, has raised $150,000, three times its original goal, in just 15 days, a record in the Indiegogo food space. So what is it that the man behind the all-natural meal-in-a-bottle does want?
Young has been obsessed with health and nutrition for as long as he can remember. A self-described “biology nerd”, Young spent his post-college years working in surgery before creating an app to bolster the effects of physical therapy. It was a few years later, in the kitchen of his entrepreneurial co-op house in San Francisco, when the idea for Ample came to him.
“I was watching my friends—some of the smartest people I’ve ever met—eat like shit, because they were too busy and the idea of health is too obscured,” Young says. “I gave nutrition lectures, led cooking classes, but my friend finally said, ‘I don’t need more work, I need healthy to be easy.’”
Young began mixing the formula for Ample in that same kitchen—“There were some brave guinea pigs for those first few batches”—and finally created a meal-in-a-bottle that was completely nutritious and actually tasted good. Young explains his recipe—which is packed with healthy fats, varied proteins, pre- and probiotics, and is naturally sweetened with sweet potatoes, cacao, and macadamia nuts—as “optimal” nutrition.
“I didn’t want to hit the FDA’s minimum daily values like they were a Scantron,” Young explains. “I wanted to draw upon the most up-to-date nutrition science to create a meal-in-a-bottle that could help busy people kick ass!”
It’s clear that Ample is more than a meal shake to Young. The wiry founder who built his own CrossFit gym has spent hundreds of hours poring over scientific studies and has interviewed experts on his podcast Health Hacker Radio.
On their Indiegogo, Ample explains their plan is three-pronged: “Leveling up our science. Leveling up your health. Leveling up the food industry.” Young says he does not just want to make the best meal-in-a-bottle; he wants to hack the entire food industry.
Young plans to invest in nutrition science studies in the future and also to take the business tenants of the tech industry—open-sourcing manufacturing practices, streamlining production to minimize social and environmental impact, and creating a relationship with customers—to the top-heavy food industry. He wants Ample to “set the bar high” to make consumers expect more from the companies that sell them the products they eat.
Young’s goals are lofty, but as you speak with him, they feel less and less unattainable. He has a penchant for impassioned asides about the historical context that led to the vilification of saturated fats or the fact that absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence in terms of GMOs. The best founders are obsessed with their fields and it’s clear as day that Young is obsessed with nutrition.
So if Young doesn’t want to replace your salads or home-cooked meals with Ample, what does he want? He wants to demystify the idea of “healthy”. He wants to force the food industry to treat its consumers and the environment with more respect. But first, he wants to create a meal-in-a-bottle that makes it truly easy and affordable to eat well.
“Ample is for coders and founders, but also for nutrition enthusiasts and busy moms,” Young says. “Eating well shouldn’t take an advanced degree and half your paycheck. It shouldn’t be so damn hard.”
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