A local food startup has media outlets buzzing about their product. Cricket Flours, founded by University of Oregon students Omar Ellis, MBA ’15, and Charlie Wilson, takes a new spin on paleo-style ingredients by sourcing crickets raised in the United States to produce highly nutritious powder that makes it easy for mixing into common recipes.
The buzz started after The Register Guard posted an article on January 31 focused on how the founders chose crickets as their market as well as highlighted some challenges they might face in determining their future business venture. The duo was also featured on OPB and in Portland Monthly, as well as dozens of other media outlets. Cricket flour—the substance, not the company—even made the Huffington Post’s “weirdest and wackiest food trends of 2015.”
So, how does one become a cricket connoisseur?
The Cricket Flours team got their start at the University of Oregon. Wilson, a recent UO School of Law graduate, and Ellis, who is completing the Oregon MBA’s innovation and entrepreneurship track, got connected through coursework and the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship (LCE). Wilson had initially began researching alternative sources of protein and nutrition as a result of an allergy that inhibited his consumption of common store-bought items. After looking at a variety of options and studying nutritional information, he stumbled across protein sourced from crickets as a perfect fit.
At 12.9 grams of protein per 100 grams, crickets have about half the protein of chicken and beef, but crickets are a considerably more sustainable source of protein. They are also high in calcium, iron, and vitamin B12.
With Ellis's help and education from the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, Cricket Flours is pursing a business plan targeting athletes, sustainability focused individuals, and those with dietary restrictions. Cricket Flours makes it easy for people to incorporate the flour into their daily diets and training routines. About 5,500 crickets are needed to produce one pound of flour.
What’s next for these two?
Winners in November 2014 of Portland State University’s Lab2Market Pitch event, a two-day intensive that allows university entrepreneurs and innovators to refine their business concepts with help from venture capitalists and startup mentors, Wilson and Ellis are now one of two LCE ventures this year taking their startup to other university-based business plan competitions around the world. Most recently from February 12-14, 2015, Cricket Flours competed in the international mai Bangkok Business Challenge at Sasin University in Thailand, making it to the finals (one of only four teams to do so) and winning best written business plan in its track.
Read more about Cricket Flours on company’s website and follow them on Twitter @CricketFlours.
Original story by Stephanie Imah, a public relations major at the UO School of Journalism and Communication, for RAIN Eugene, a partnership between the University of Oregon and the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce. Repurposed here with additional details.