Entrepreneur bets the farm on high-protein powder made from insects
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/04/2015 (2913 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Jiminy Cricket wouldn’t approve, but a Stony Mountain entrepreneur is hoping a new protein powder made from crickets will help him save the family farm.
Alex Drysdale, a 28-year-old entrepreneur, fitness buff and environmentalist, is launching a new online business later this month called Crik Nutrition. Its sole product is a new protein powder he created that’s made mainly from ground crickets he buys from a cricket farm in southern Ontario.
Drysdale says not only is his protein powder high in protein, calcium, magnesium, iron and vitamin B12, it also tastes pretty good when added to a shake or a smoothie, or even just mixed with water or milk.
“Everybody who has tried it is really surprised that it tastes that good. It smells like vanilla and brown sugar, kind of, but tastes like any other vanilla protein shake,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
“I wanted it to be high in protein but also taste good,” he added. “That way the only mental barrier (to overcome) is that you’re eating crickets, because it doesn’t look like crickets, it doesn’t taste like crickets and it doesn’t feel like crickets, or anything like that.”
A former railway signals and communications technician, Drysdale said he got the idea to make a cricket-protein powder last September after coming across a Facebook posting about a new company that had raised some money to start producing a protein bar made from crickets.
“It looked really cool, and I wanted to try it. And I wanted to see if there was a protein powder (made from crickets), but there wasn’t. So literally that same day, I started researching it.”
He found there were other startup companies making cricket crackers and cricket chips, but could find no one who was making a cricket-protein powder.
Since he was between jobs — another online company he’s started last year wasn’t doing that great — he decided to give it a whirl. He figured a protein powder would appeal to athletes, bodybuilders, cross-fitness buffs, naturalists and health-food enthusiasts.
It took three or four months of experimenting to come up with the right recipe. His first try was extra high in protein — it was 90 per cent ground-up cricket — but didn’t pass the taste test.
“It tasted like crushed almonds and grass,” he said with a chuckle, so he started adding other ingredients to enhance the taste — such as pea protein, brown rice protein, hemp protein, flax, vanilla, stevia (a sugar substitute) and monk fruit — until he got the right mix.
‘I WANTED IT TO BE HIGH IN PROTEIN BUT ALSO TASTE GOOD…
it doesn’t look like crickets, it doesn’t taste like crickets and it doesn’t feel like crickets, or anything like that.’
The challenge then was to find a protein manufacturer willing to run off a sample batch without charging him a small fortune.
He finally found one in British Columbia who charged him about $2,600 for three “tubs’ of the powder.
Drysdale has picked April 22 — Earth Day — for the official launch of his company and product on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, where customers pay in advance and receive the product later. If the Kickstarter fundraising campaign is successful, the money raised will be used to produce more powder.
If all goes well, Drysdale hopes to begin selling the powder on his company’s website, criknutrition.com, by late this summer.
He also hopes the new venture will be generate enough profit to enable him to buy his grandparents’ long-dormant, 40-acre farm in Stony Mountain. His parents live on the same acreage, and he spent a lot of time helping out his grandfather when he was growing up.
His grandmother was the last person to live there, and she died earlier this year. So Drysdale is living there until he knows whether he can earn enough money to buy the property from the rest of the family.
“I’d love to stay here,” he said, noting his grandparents had owned the land since 1937.
“There’s a lot of history here, and if it gets sold, it’s going to get developed. That would be pretty sad to see.”
He’s also hoping that if the business is a success, he can eventually start his own cricket farm and his own protein-manufacturing facility.
“I’d like to do it all locally. But one step at a time.”
Updated on Thursday, April 9, 2015 9:12 AM CDT: Corrects references to Blanchard to Drysdale