Rhinehart creates the food substitute with the remaining $70,000 from Y Combinator running out, and the pitch idea of cheap cellphone towers having failed. Looking to save costs, he tries living on $5 pizzas from Little Caesars and dollar menu food from McDonalds:
I felt like I was going to die.
An all-kale diet also fails, and he starts considering food as an engineering problem:
You need amino acids and lipids, not milk itself. You need carbohydrates, not bread… [food] just seemed like a system that’s too complex and too expensive and too fragile.
He isolates 35 essential nutrients and orders them in powdered and liquid forms online, and begins creating the substance.