Are you lactose intolerant?
Do you like your morning coffee cold, or do you prefer to have a hit of chocolate milk?
Are you looking for a drink with fewer calories and no sugar with no compromise on taste?
We sound like a cliché commercial, but we are trying to find out if you are a stickler for milk drinks. As the most popular drink in the world, coffee tends to make any brand a favorite of caffeine lovers.
So, if you answered “Yes” to all the above, Manny Lubin and Josh Belinsky have just the product for you — Slate Chocolate Milk. The two friends co-founded the company in 2018. They came up with the idea through their shared love for chocolate milk. They wanted to enjoy a drink every day that was low in sugar and lactose-free. However, they wanted a little mix of caffeine and the ingredients of an energy drink, which is how the Slate drinks were introduced.
After much research, they developed an ultra-filtration technique, which removes lactose, sugar, and fat from milk. Since both were graduates when they started out, they didn’t have any savings to put into their business idea. So, they launched multiple campaigns, accumulating $57,1771 from IndieGoGo and Kickstarter.
The company started shipping its products in October 2019. In the next two years, Manny and Josh were able to secure more seed money to expand their business.
Is the Company Still Active?
Still in Business
Slate Chocolate Milk is doing pretty well for a small startup. In October 2021, the company secured $3.3 million in seed fundraising. Today, Slate Chocolate Milk is distributed to more than 3,000 locations and is sold in many stores, online, and through its official website. Some supermarkets where you can find the chocolate milk and coffee cans include Harris Teeter, Roche Brother, Whole Foods, Publix, Bristol Farms, Central Market and Giant, and Giant Martin’s.
How Did the Shark Tank Pitch Go?
Manny Lubin and Josh Belinsky appeared on Ep.23 of Shark Tank in Season 11, which aired on May 13, 2020. The entrepreneurs presented their brand Slate Chocolate Milk and wanted an investment of $400,000 for a 10% stake in the company. Based on these numbers, the company at the time was valued at $4 million.
The two friends walk on the stage with their products in hand. After giving a small speech about their brand, they hand out the drinks to the Sharks. After taking a sip, Mark Cubin says loudly that he doesn’t like the taste at all.
Slate didn’t have a good start. Its Shark Tank episode was recorded in 2019 but aired in 2020. The formula they had pre-sales was not good, according to the Sharks’ feedback. Barbara and Kevin said the milk tasted a little funky and had a chicken-like smell and a dry aftertaste. The judges weren’t impressed with their idea, product, and numbers.
Lori said that they were in the early stages of establishing their company, and they didn’t even have a business plan. So, she backed out. Kevin said that Manny and Josh needed to work on the product. He backed out.
Barbara didn’t like how the entrepreneurs went straight to asking for investment rather than perfecting Slate’s business plan. She backed out. Cubin said his reaction was all they needed to know that he wouldn’t invest.
Rohan said that even though his gut was telling him to invest in the company, the sales were holding him back. He backed out. Manny Lubin and Josh Belinsky exited the stage without a deal.
Our Review of Slate Chocolate Milk
Slate Chocolate Milk might not have tickled the taste buds of the Sharks, but it became quite popular on its own. On its website, Slate claims that the milk goes through an ultra-filtration process, which removes a small amount of water and lactose sugars from it. This increases the concentration of milk proteins.
The company is also dedicated to making the planet better. They do this by sending the filtered water back to family-owned farms, where it is used in everyday processes. The drink is then naturally sweetened with low-calorie fig sugar called allulose and maple syrup. All in all, the ingredients are spot on, but what about the taste?
Like the Sharks, many people have complained about not liking it. Though chocolate milk is a hit with the kids, it’s not with the adults.
Pros of Slate Chocolate Milk
- The can is made of 100% recyclable ingredients
- Low sugar and lactose-free
- Slate is a Certified Plastic Neutral company
- Low in carbs
- Does not need to be refrigerated (Has a long shelf-life)
Cons of Slate Chocolate Milk
- The drink is targeted at adults with health, energy, and wellness in mind but is more popular with kids
- Funky taste
- Fewer flavors
Who Is Slate Chocolate Milk For?
One of the reasons why Slate wasn’t able to secure a deal from the Sharks is that their valuation was pre-sales. The brand was targeting adults by marketing the products as pre-workout fuel, a healthy and heavy breakfast, and a sugar-free energy drink. They failed to include children and teens in their target market, the products’ largest demographic.
Are There Any Alternatives?
Countless brands offer chocolate milk like Slate Chocolate Milk. However, most of these brands are marketed as low sugar and lactose-free milk instead of a delicious drink that keeps you energized and is great for fueling your body pre-workout.
Some of these brands include:
- Organic Horizon: https://horizon.com/
- Almond Breeze: https://almondbreeze.co.nz/product/chocolate/
- Natrel: https://www.natrel.ca/en
- Happy Belly: https://www.happybellytacoma.com/
- So Delicious: https://sodeliciousdairyfree.com/dairy-free-foods/plant-based-beverages/coconutmilk/
Though these brands are similar to Slate, their products do not have the same ingredients, and they are not made with wellness in mind.
Our Final Thoughts
Slate Chocolate Milk was able to succeed without the help of the Sharks, which only a few companies can do without investing. In this case, luck was on their side. Since the brand was launched, Slate has raised around $6 million in funding, which is not a small feet. With its product being distributed in thousands of stores, all Slate has to do is work a little on its marketing strategy, and the company will be unstoppable.