Boston Partner Spotlight: Slate Chocolate Milk
You’ve heard it before (but I’ll say it again!): At 6AM Health, we take pride in hiring locally, preparing products in our local commissary kitchen, and sourcing from other food entrepreneurs in the Boston ecosystem. That being said, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to our third Boston Partner Spotlight: Slate Chocolate Milk!
Slate Chocolate Milk is available in three varieties: Dark (“designed to match that ever-so satisfying bite of a 72% cacao chocolate bar”), Classic (“our take on our favorite old school chocolate treats”), and Espresso (“mocha latte fan but wish they were even more chocolatey?”) And, yes, you’ve guessed it, all three flavors can be found in our Fresh Fridges! Which one are you thinking of trying first?!
Slate Chocolate Milk recently gained national recognition after appearing on Shark Tank, a popular ABC show that allows budding entrepreneurs the chance to bring their dreams to fruition. So, who is responsible for Slate’s ‘modern’ chocolate milk? Manny Lubin and Josh Belinsky, co-founders of Slate, and both Northeastern grads deserve ALL our kudos. I mean, where would we be without them and their brilliant idea to, as they put it, give milk a clean slate! Check out Manny and Josh’s Kickstarter video for an (entertaining) glimpse into the backbone of what makes their company so great.
What is Slate Chocolate Milk, and how exactly is it ‘healthy?’ Well, first, let me say that it is not only 6AM Health-approved healthy, but it is a hands-down delicious alternative to the chocolate milk we grew up loving. Slate Chocolate Milk is a lower sugar, higher protein, lactose-free chocolate milk. According to their website, the process by which slate makes their product involves skimming the milk and then filtering out the natural lactose sugars in it through a natural process called ultrafiltration. They then blend, can, and heat the natural ingredients at their production facility.
As in our other spotlights, I had the opportunity to talk to Manny Lubin to learn more about Slate Chocolate Milk and some of the driving forces behind the Boston-based company.
Before I dive deeper into the Q&A portion of our conversation, I do want to highlight one overarching mantra in all of Manny’s responses: passion. Manny’s upbeat and enthusiastic personality echoed through the phone, and I have no doubt that his overwhelming success is tied to the passion he decided to chase when starting this company: “We've always loved chocolate milk, so we decided to make the best chocolate milks ever.” And so they did!
What was it like to be on Shark Tank?
Manny and Josh were connected to Shark Tank through Kickstarter. At this point, they were pre-product, pre-launch, and weren’t even done formulating their chocolate milk recipe. Still, they went through the vetting process. According to Manny, “We blinked and we were in LA.” While they knew it was going to be a bit of an uphill battle based on where they were as a company, Manny and Josh were able to use the Shark’s feedback, they knew that “what they should do better than anything is listen.” So, today the chocolate milk they sell reflects a new and improved recipe, and they continue to demo in Roche Bros and Whole Foods when possible, collecting and utilizing customer feedback.
How did you and Josh come to work together to be co-founders of Slate, and what is your relationship like?
“He’s obsessed with me,” Manny joked to me, exhibiting the playful and brotherly connection between himself and Josh. Manny and Josh were in the tech space after graduating from college, both having gotten a taste of the startup world but ready to create something they could hold. On October 5, 2017, Manny sent Josh a deck with the (soon to be famous) words “lmk what you think.” Well, one thing led to another, and now we are all wondering how many times a day it is acceptable to drink Slate Chocolate Milk.
What are the benefits (for all people) of drinking lactose-free milk?
I was shocked to learn that a lot of people don’t even notice how lactose affects their bodies. Manny and Josh, lactose-intolerant themselves, “wanted to make sure that anyone that wanted to drink chocolate milk could drink chocolate milk.” This crafted solution also ends up being lower in sugar and higher in protein than normal chocolate milk, while still being high in electrolytes.
What is one lesson you would pass on to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Without missing a beat, Manny told me: “When in doubt, go with your gut [...] What makes us all different and unique is our instinct.”
Looking towards the future, Slate Chocolate Milk is looking to continue growing its retail footprint, finding partners that share their same values. From all of us here at 6AM Health: you’ve always got a friend in us, Slate (as long as you keep sharing the chocolate milk, of course)!