Cricket to Nutrition: Our interview with Alex Drysdale about his entrepreneurial journey
There are many forms of nutritional protein present in the market. You can even find completely vegan brands of the stuff, which has high popularity among the health conscious and athletic people. In all of this, when we came to know about a source of protein derived from crickets (the insect), we were shocked and amazed in turn.
First of all, we would like to congratulate you on bringing a new source of protein to the market. We feel that other entrepreneurs can learn from your example too.
Crik was launched in 2014, what was your inspiration behind its launch, why crickets?
I got the idea late 2014 and started experimenting. Come early 2015 really started focusing on getting the formula figured out so we could launch in spring 2015 for a crowdfunding campaign.
I first heard about crickets as a high protein source via a Facebook post about protein bars using crickets. It piqued my interest because, well, it’s crickets! When I read the article I saw that crickets are super nutritious and extremely sustainable. I try to not only eat healthy but also consider the impact on the environment as well as the lives of the animals I consume (tend to do grass-fed free roaming, or wild meat).
I don’t eat protein bars so I looked for a powder but none existed. That same day I started focusing 100% on making this a reality. Basically, it was a product I wanted to exist to use myself, but it didn’t.
Did you face any difficulties in manufacturing your products? How do you manage the extraction? Do you have a cricket farm?
The hardest part was a) figuring out how one goes about starting to manufacture a protein powder. Then b) Finding a manufacturer that would take me seriously when I told them what I wanted to do. Most places wouldn’t even take my money so I could experiment. They thought I was crazy. Also many places needed huge deposits well out of my range. I ended up finding a partner that saw my vision as well as was willing to help with development on terms I could afford.
The crickets are naturally very high in protein so we don’t need to extract anything. This is what makes them so nutritious. Plus there is no waste since you are using the entire insect. Every bit of it has great value.
I do not have a cricket farm. I work very closely with Entomo Farms. They focus on being awesome cricket farmers, and I focus on using their crickets to make great products.
You have converted something not normally considered for nutrition and turned it into a tasty snack, did you have to go through many experiments to make the taste alluring?
Looking back, it didn’t take too many variations to get the taste nailed down. The crickets don’t actually taste terrible to begin with. The big issue was the high cost of the crickets. They are up to 10x more expensive than some other proteins out there.
The biggest hurdle was figuring out how to keep the price reasonable. We make this work by focusing on online sales and keeping the company overhead as low as possible.
The plan is to forever be improving the formula in taste, flavors, quality, and price. It is never ending.
How has been the general response from the community?
The response has been amazing. I thought it would be about 50/50. But, when I’m at in person events almost 90% of everyone comes to the booth and everyone that sees, and smells the protein powder is willing to give it a try.
It’s indistinguishable from other’s, so as soon as people learn about how awesome crickets are they… jump… on it 😀
Now only a couple months in from our first deliveries, I’m getting a lot of repeat, and happy customers. I work at speaking with everyone on the phone or in person so I can get their real feedback if there are things that need to be improved.
Lastly, you turned something that you believed in into a success story. Do you have any advice for your fellow entrepreneurs out there?
Never stop improving.
This means yourself: Read Books. Take Courses. Eat Healthier. Exercise. Travel. Talk to Strangers.
Your business: Upgrade your website everyday. Hire smart people. Negotiate better deals. Make your product better.
You have to be all in and always pushing forward. Lots of things you do won’t work out, but you always learn from it, therefore making your next attempt that much better. Jump in with both feet but be smart. Have mentors and most importantly make sure people will actually pay you for the value bring them. Actually go out and get people to pay you before you put a ton of time and money into something. Validate your market!
Tip: Read “Think and Grow Rich”