Whether you are a busy student cramming for exams, or if you are working day and night trying to get your business off the ground, eating healthy seems to be the first thing to fly out the window when work builds up. You are too lazy to make a salad, so you pop open some good ole’ processed food and fill up. The good news is that those days are over. With the new Startup Sani, created by NYU students, you can have healthy filling foods ready to go in just 2 minutes. With their precious powdered meals you will have one less item to take care of before you head off to work and can drive happily knowing that you will be eating healthy today.
Today, we chat with the Sani team to learn more about the startup and the impressive health benefits that its offers.
Tell us about the product or service.
Our food choices depend on convenience, health, and price; often we have to settle for two of these. Being one of many choices we make in our busy days, this immediacy that we require out of food has created a slew of health problems around us.
Sani is a powdered meal replacement that is personalized to your nutritional needs, made from all-natural ingredients for $4 per meal. Each meal is pre-portioned, comes in three flavors that make a tasty meal in as little as 2 minutes, just add water.
How is it different?
With Sani, every meal is perfectly balanced with all the nutrients your body needs. No food has ever been designed with the individual in mind and this allows quick meals to become the healthiest. By quantifying the nutritionist, we adjust to any health goals or specific dietary requirements anyone may have.
However, our love for food compelled us to think beyond nutritional content. With one Sani meal, you are able to prepare pancakes, cookies, breads, and other familiar treats depending on your mood and time. Being college students in NYC with tiny kitchens, we keep our recipes under 4 ingredients.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We target active millennials seeking healthy, convenient meals and they make up the majority of our user base. They resonate with an affordable solution that offers them something that is not available in the market. Many workout and understand the importance of a tailored diet that provides their ideal macronutrient needs. Most users replace 1-2 of their daily meals. As we scale, we continue to target the same group offering a means to initially replace that one meal we skip or could eat better estimated at $250M.
(83.1 M Millennials) X [avg. weekly food budget $173/week X 52 weeks] X (⅓ of meals)
What is the business model?
Sani is offered direct to consumer through our online store. We source our ingredients from a handful of suppliers and continue to refine our recipe as we develop more product offerings. By automating our manufacturing and fulfillment process from customer’s input, we are able to scale and iterate quickly with little overhead.
What inspired the business?
A big part of our friendship is the gym. As roommates who once aspired to go to culinary school, we compete to see who can come up with the best dishes with whatever is in the fridge. As Stern students, we constantly learn about the socioeconomic implications of broken industries and saw this happening to a key part of who we are.
Sani is the intersection of our interests and proposed solution to our growing food problems.
Can you tell us about your findings after running the experiment on your team for 30 days?
We only ate Sani for 30 days – you can read about our experience on our blog. The craziest thing for us was how our bodies responded. We maintained our usual workout routines, but our bodies actually changed at the rate we predicted using USDA formulas. There was a tough learning period, but that lasted less than ten days. Once we figured out recipes for baked goods and noticed our progress, it became a new way to eat rather than a replacement of food.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We’ve built our back-end, which optimizes for nutrition and taste. This will allow you to see your optimal diet (nutritional facts, macro/micronutrient profile) be calculated and optimized in real time before ordering. From there, we will be rolling out a feedback app that allows you to adjust your Sani if your goals change, want more flavor intensity, or a different texture. We look to build personalized food in every dimension beyond nutrition.
What is the one piece of business advice that you never got?
Crazy is sometimes good. People will shut you down but it builds character. It took a few iterations just to be able to be able to articulate the idea in a way that resonates with people.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Dominique Ansel. We’d love to see what the most innovative pastry chef around could create with the healthiest powdered meal.
Why did you launch in New York?
After moving here as students, it became harder to give time to the other things we valued such as health and fitness; everything became a trade-off. While everyone can agree time is valuable, living in NYC makes it front and center. Naturally, it was the place to launch.
What is your favorite restaurant in the city?
Gaia Italian Cafe in the Lower East Side. Gaia is the nicest woman, running her cozy, efficient restaurant but will make sure you know when you’re in her way. Her food is the closest thing to a home-cooked meal we’ve found while living here.