Q&A: Bulletproof Coffee Founder Talks FATwater and Trinity Ventures Investment

FatWater_970Last week, Silicon valley entrepreneur and self-identified biohacker Dave Asprey added some armor to his Bulletproof brand with the announcement of a $9 million investment in the company from venture capital firm Trinity Ventures. The capital raise arrives as Asprey looks to expand Bulletproof beyond its e-commerce base, with plans to open up brick-and-mortar cafe locations and enter the ready-to-drink (RTD) beverage segment. The latter move comes by way of the recent introduction of FATwater, an enhanced water line containing Bulletproof’s fat-based nutritional supplements.

In an interview with BevNET, Asprey — who was en route to the CrossFit Games in Carson, Calif — discussed the Trinity Ventures investment, FATwater’s launch and the commercialization of Bulletproof.

The following interview has been condensed and edited into a question and answer format.

Neil Martinez-Belkin: How did the investment from Trinity Ventures come about?

Dave Asprey: I’m in the habit of thinking really big. I hang out with [personal spaceflight pioneer] Peter Diamandis who really trains you to do that. But I was thinking what if we wanted to take Bulletproof beyond the two million people a month we reach with our website? What if wanted to physically reach two million people a month? I knew the partners at Trinity from being an entrepreneur in residence and so I called them and told them I was raising an angel round and wanted to see if they were interested in contributing. Bulletproof is an unusual company in that we’re involved in really anything that increases human performance – coffee shops, nootropics, supplements. That breaks the mold of what’s typically venture fundable in Silicon Valley, but to my surprise they told me they’d looked at our numbers and our customer retention rate and that this was to be a fund investment, not a personal one. So we’ve raised $9 million from Trinity Ventures which is a way for us to go really big.

NMB: Is the launch of an RTD product like FATwater indicative of going “really big”?

DA: It’s absolutely a broader market play. You don’t need to be on the Bulletproof Diet and can still be afraid of butter to want to drink a 20-calorie beverage that makes you feel good.

NMB: What was the impetus behind creating FATwater?

DA: For a long time sugary drinks have been people’s choice of beverages. This started with soft drinks and has moved on to fruit juices, which is still just sugar water. The problem is people are figuring out sugar makes you fat. It causes cavities and contributes to obesity and diabetes. So people want a lot less sugar but they want to drink something that has flavor and functional benefits. And diet sodas don’t work. So what’s left?

NMB: Fat?

DA: The right kinds of fat. People are learning the right kinds of fat don’t actually make you fat but they do give you a lot of energy. This is a groundbreaking product. Nothing has been done like this before. We’re actually leveraging fat to drive hydration. What we’ve done with FATwater is we use a special extract of coconut oil called Bulletproof XCT oil – about 15 percent of what’s in coconut oil is XCT oil. We extract that and make a nanofusion where we’ve put tiny droplets of this fat in the water itself. We’ve added natural flavors and use Stevia and a non-GMO xylitol as a sweetener. So it has a nice sweet, fruity taste, but the important thing is these nanodroplets of fat. These help escort the water into the body more quickly so it’s a very hydrating drink and we’re making it through a mechanism most people haven’t heard about. But it’s noticeably effective. You drink it and you want more of it.

NMB Bulletproof’s seen a lot of success in Silicon Valley’s tech crowd, and right now you’re headed to the CrossFit Games now where the brand also has a presence. But how do you broaden your consumer base and market these products to the masses?

DA: Well I’m not a marketing ninja. I’m a biohacker, which means I make stuff that works really well. And when something works really well, it sells really well. That’s the oldest trick for selling things – just make really good stuff. That’s what’s made Bulletproof Coffee so successful. But more than ever before there’s a huge amount of competition for eyeballs. You go into a store and there’s such a variety of things to choose from it can be overwhelming. But FATwater stands out because who the heck would put fat in water, right? Oil and water don’t mix, right? So it gets people’s attention and that’s a win right there. Now they’re thinking about fat and holding a bottle of FATwater. When they read the label or they research all the evidence showing that the right kinds of fat are something your body needs, people are going to start to accept that. You can’t stop knowledge and once they try it they’ll feel the difference. That’s how you get this product into the mainstream.

NMB: For the uninitiated, what exactly is biohacking?

DA: Biohacking is the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside of you so you have control of your biology. That’s the underlying ethos for FATwater and everything else from Bulletproof. It’s about having control of your body.