The DIY marketplace seems to be taking off


A sample set is a fantastic idea. I’m not picky about what goes in as long as there is variety and clear labeling.


Under U.S. law you cannot copyright a list of ingredients, which is what the “recipes” are. You can freely open up a copyrighted cookbook and distribute the name of each recipe and its ingredients: what you are not allowed to do is distribute the instructions.

Since everyone knows the instructions for Soylent, DIY or otherwise, is “mix with water” this should be in the clear. For more complex recipes such as a cheesecake that has a crust and filling, that is not the case.

Source: U.S. Copyright Office.

Please note that the laws in other countries may differ. However, Rosa Labs, its web sites, and the DIY site are all based in the United States.


My take on the DIY Marketplace is that this is a good thing. Rosa Labs have made it clear that they are not out to monopolize powdered food, alternative food, whatever you want to call it. More options are better.

There is a HUGE market for Soylent. Specifically, customized Soylent. Need fewer or more calories? Different macro profile? Have some medical condition where you need more vitamin X or mineral Y? Male or female? Some of us are built larger, some smaller. There are so many variations on human physiology that one size can never fit all.

Rosa Labs have said they want to offer more choices, but obviously as a startup they have run into problems that are slowing their ability to achieve their goals.

My personal take on this is that Rosa Labs will be the mass producer of Soylent: maybe 80% of the population can make do with the current Soylent. Maybe they can make two or three blends that meet 95% of the demand, and they can focus on the economy of scale to make it happen.

The Soylent Marketplace can fill in those gaps. @Spaceman has thus far been pretty open to ideas to improve his product and to customize it. But I do not believe he has the capacity of Rosa Labs. @axcho has also customized, but he is one man with a full time job that is not Soylent.

These entities can coexist and fill different market niches. There is no need for animosity or competition. Right now the market is huge, demand is unquenchable. Why argue?

I am a software engineer, not a physician, not a biologist, not a nutritionist. But I have an altruistic nerve, and Soylent makes me truly happy. I have never felt as good about nutrition or dieting as I have when making, drinking, or talking about Soylent. This has the potential to be a real food revolution. We have the power to fix the obesity epidemic in the United States. We have the power to help starving children in Africa. Focus on the end goal, which is not the delivery of the official Rosa Labs Soylent to your door. The end goal is fixing the global food problem which includes starvation, malnutrition, and obesity.


I just joined Marketplace as DIY-producer and want to announce: we offer samples!
Yes, you can taste different formulas in one pack.


Yeah, there is no “loophole” here. Otherwise you’d see brothels up on every street corner: you don’t “pay” for sex, you just “donate”…

This will mostly be a matter of flying under the radar. If I was running this website I’d completely distance myself from the health code issues(“I’m just a webstore front end, I don’t actually sell anything.”) and put up in the forums links for sellers to comply with the codes.

But posting that you’re trying to “loophole” a law is just asking to be smacked down.


That probably is true. Maybe for now it would be better just to state that donators will also receive food and to not mention a loophole or intentions why there are different payment buttons.


I think this is one of those cases where a $200 legal consult can save you 50k in fees down the road. I’ve built web store products for companies(like Ebay) and know that as a webstore provider you’re not in the biz of checking that your customers are following all the codes.

But by putting the notice up you’re kind of basically saying thay “yes, I’m aware my customers are violating the law and I promote it”. I would just get distance from the issue. I’d hate for a site like this to blow up, get big and have the founder end up in a legal quagmire over it.


@mark1 I think what you are getting at is the difference between a cottage industry and a “real” business. The differences vary from state to state and country to country, and this is one area where the federal government also has jurisdiction (interstate commerce).

I know several people who have gone into small-scale business in food. My brother sells food at farmers’ markets, for example (he has a lot of land and is a part-time farmer).

The key here that will help to protect the makers/sellers of DIY Soylent is that this is not their full-time job. If a person has a full-time job that pays the bills and decides to do a little something on the side, the legal requirements for that job are a lot more lax (not always though, a plumber who moonlights still has to abide by building codes). Rosa Labs, for example, has to comply with the full gamut of FDA rules and regulations because Soylent is their business.

I think as a CYA it might be a good idea to have a disclaimer during the ordering process that must be clicked through. It should say something to the effect of “this product came from someone’s kitchen, not a factory, has not been tested by the FDA, and the creator makes no claims about its fitness for a particular task.”


@Snowman I agree with you overall, but regarding “has not been tested by the FDA”, do they actually conduct these kinds of tests anyway? Maybe “approved” is the correct word.

See also:


I agree with all that has been suggested about legality in these last few posts and encourage @Spaceman to respond. :wink:


@mark1 - you already saved half of that $200 with your advice, thanks.

But I’m faithfully think that we’re as the whole peer-to-peer industry in the beginning of new rules, since “old school” does not fit perfect for crowd and local producers. Lyft & Airbnb had to protect their models in courts (that’s minus), but as a result - they set a new level in their industries (the plus).

I believe, that we’re in the beginning of new integrated foods era, ignited by Soylent. Due to demand for new flavors - we expect a lot of new entrants to this market, mostly from local producers. So we should develop easy tools for them and be ready to help or protect, but not to force them into huge startup investments. And I believe, that as soon as they get first real money - they get their Health permits as I did, and @axcho does.

But you’re right - we can not tease a bull with a red flag and now, when we discussed our “loophole” so deeply in this thread (thanks @Snowman, @Cobra) - we can remove it from the pages of marketplace and just give a hint to read this thread.


You are correct, the FDA does not actually test food. I think they might not test drugs, either, but they are a lot more in-your-grill in terms of being involved with drug studies.

I think “approved” is more correct. They will inspect facilities, to include observing processes as well as spot-checking for contamination. But they do not actually test the nutritional content of food.

Another important take on this is Soylent, DIY or otherwise, does not fall under the category of “food” but is instead a “supplement” since it is made up of supplements. I do not have a link handy but I am pretty sure Rob made a blog post about this, it made it much easier to find a facility and get up and running. It would be worth fact-checking this before assuming it is true.

If that is true, then DIY sellers who are not working full-time at DIY have two barriers protecting them from The Man coming in to crash the party: (1) they are a cottage industry (2) making supplements, not food or drugs.


I’ve been trying to find out about this but I haven’t had much luck. Any links or leads?


He’s right, european customs authorities treated it as dietary supplement when TNT imported my first shipment of 100%FOOD to Austria.


Soylent is a food product (classified as a food, not a supplement, by the FDA) designed for use as a staple meal by all adults. Each serving of Soylent provides maximum nutrition with minimum effort.

Does this mean that Soylent is not a supplement after all?

Just found this, also:

Soylent is designed and regulated as a food, not a supplement.


This is interesting - I wonder if this does apply to DIY as well? And if it makes any changes in export/import? Because like I said, customs authorities that were involved in my shipment treated it as a supplement.


Interesting, my memory must be worse than I thought because I thought Rob said it was regulated as a supplement. Good to know, though.

I wonder what the specific line is between the two. How does the FDA know to regulate it as one or the other?


I assumed that since Rosa Labs is using rice protein and other food products in their recipe, they would be required to label Soylent as a food.


I believe rice protein is classified as a supplement.


Hi guys, yesterday I received a Message :

Want to donate or sell Soylent to a starving village? helps a tribal indigenous village on Mindoro island in the Philippines. 300 people in the village, 140 kids, they are malnourished. Most have tuberculosis - they don’t get enough protein. We want to ship them DIY Soylent. Any amount is helpful. You mix it, we pay for ingredients? Soylent is ideal for this. Press attention for your good deed if you want it. Link to info on the Mangyan people is:

I replied, that I’m in and created a donation page to collect funds for ingredients and shipment.

@chris_bair joined. What about you?
Ready to mix from paid ingredients? Donate for shipment? Or just spread the word?