Between winning the University of Manitoba’s Stu Clark Investment Competition and playing a starring role in hamburger chain Wayback Burgers’s April Fools Day stunt, it’s been a busy few weeks for University of Oregon graduate student startup Cricket Flours.
In that last week of March, Cricket Flours saw a double victory in Canada. Competing in the Stu Clark Investment Competition, the team hopped away with more than $20,000 in prize money after winning both the elevator pitch competition and first prize overall.
Cofounders Charles Wilson, JD ’15, and Omar Ellis, MBA ’15, first connected last fall in a course taught by Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship program manager Nathan Lillegard. Wilson—who had been researching alternate sources of protein—jumped on the idea of flour made from crickets and then persuaded Ellis to hop on board. (See related UO Business story from February for more background on Cricket Flours.)
Together with teammate Paul Butler, JD/MBA ’16, Ellis and Wilson have spent the past few months testing their business plan and presentation skills on the graduate investment competition circuit. In February, they travelled to Thailand to compete in the mai Bangkok Business Challenge at Sasin University. The team was recognized for the best-written business plan in its track and was one of only four to make it to the finals of the mai Bangkok Business Challenge at Sasin University.
And what about that Wayback milkshake? According to a recent article in Entrepreneur, it all started as a prank. To capture customers’ attention in the time leading up to April Fools' Day, the fast-casual hamburger chain released fake ads for a high-protein cricket milkshake. Surprised by customers’ enthusiastic reaction, the chain scrambled to find a cricket powder source so they could make the treats real. Enter Cricket Flours, and Wayback was able to offer the shake for a single day—April 1, of course—at a location in East Meadow, New York.
Keep your eye on the fast-leaping company if you can. In May, team Cricket Flours will represent the University of Oregon at the University of Texas at Austin's prestigious Global Venture Labs Investment Competition.
Visit the Cricket Flours website, read about the cricket milkshake in Entrepreneur and The New York Daily News.