Once a homegrown garage operation, Mana is now a successful European startup that employs a large team of scientists and biochemists, as well as patented food-production technology.
In 2014, founder Jakub Krejcik and his partners created a powdered food named after manna, an edible substance described in the Bible. They designed it to provide the human body with everything it needs and nothing more. But what began as a bootstrap effort to develop complete and healthy food for friends and family quickly turned into a large-scale initiative to serve the planet and its people.
Today, Mana is a global company with a mission to scientifically engineer complete-nutrition food products for better, everyday living, and produce and distribute them via an increasingly sustainable supply chain. Every month, it sells 300 tons of food across the entire European Union. In a few weeks, it will be launching sales in the U.S.
This is the story of Mana, as told by Jakub himself:
“What a true honor. We were the first producer of complete-nutrition drinks and powders in the European Union, and we now have the opportunity to share our tradition with the USA. To think that we’ve made it this far in the last 5 years is almost unreal."
"In 2014, after reading every book I could on nutritional science, I made the first version of Mana in my garage with just a couple of basic supplies and a whole lot of faith. I wanted to compose a food that would give the body everything it needed, without all the unnecessary substances that “bioaccumulate” over time. Among other things, I was motivated by my wife’s first pregnancy, which brought the issue of nutrition into my spotlight. I had also recently finished a 14-day detox on liquids only, and was starving not just for food, but for information on what food really is."
Like so many other disruptive products and technologies, Mana was born in a garage.
"At first, it was a just a personal need and hobby. I made it for myself, my family, my friends, and their friends. Everybody liked it, but I felt there was still room for growth, so I enlisted the help of my organic chemist friend Marek to improve the flavor and recipe. After a while the word spread, and before I knew it I was feeding 100 people. And they wanted to pay for it, despite the fact that I was serving it in shoe boxes wrapped in IKEA bags. That’s when I decided to go commercial."
"The term “commercial” may sound grand, but production of our first large batches was equally DIY. For example, for lack of a better solution, we mixed all the ingredients of our early recipes using an old-school concrete mixer. We also weighed and packaged everything by hand."
The old-school concrete mixer used to mix early batches of Mana. 2014.
"We later graduated to a worn, discarded food mixer:"
"And even later to a standard industrial mixer:"
Pictured: Jakub and his wife, Zuzana.
"Today, all Mana Mark 5 is mixed using a patented, high-speed cold-mixing machine designed especially for us (see photo below), and packed by partners who are the best in their field. High-speed cold mixing is a huge step towards the better nutrition of our products because our ingredients do not lose their natural properties through heating. (320 °F is the standard temperature to which foods are heated during processing. Mana is heated to a maximum of 104 °F.) It also allows us to combine the oils with the rest of the powdered ingredients, rather than serve them in a separate bottle like we did with versions Mark 1 through Mark 4."
The Mana team and the patented, high-speed cold mixer behind Mana. 2019.
"This mixer is a symbol of how far we’ve come, as well as where we’re going next. Mana has always been a cutting-edge, grassroots operation that relies on proprietary research, technology, and product engineering. And while we’re proud of what we’ve done, we will never be content to just “rest on our laurels.” As a European leader in food R&D, we will always push the boundaries of nutritional science, both for the sake of people and the planet. Indeed, we have invested millions of dollars (and counting) into new technologies. At the moment, we are working on recreating a number of iconic foods in high-nutrition format. But more on that later."
"In the meantime, we are getting ready to launch sales in the U.S., and are already taking pre-orders through our U.S. website. Only our Origin Powder will be available at first, but we hope to follow up soon with our other flavors of powder and drink. Check out this detailed review for information on all of them: https://latestfuels.com/mana-drink-review/."
Jakub and Marek, the founding fathers of Mana, weighing and packing by hand. 2014.
"One quote that inspired me to begin operations in my icy garage was “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates said that. One of our office mottos is “Break old chains and new ground.” I said that."
"But breaking new ground means rising to challenges, and we are well-aware that getting a foothold in the U.S. will be a major one. We therefore humbly ask for some time to adapt to the logistics of doing business there. We are totally committed to providing a premium product and service, and take your trust very seriously. Stick with us and we’ll make it worth your while."
"Uncle Sam is counting on it and so are we."