Set up last year, the cricket protein bar specialist was dreamt up by two young entrepreneurs – Gabi Lewis and Gred Sewitz. The vision? To normalize the consumption of insects and introduce a new sustainable food source to protein bars.
Five months on from launching the concept, Lewis remains hungry for big-scale success and the first large-scale production run is just round the corner - set for the coming weeks.
Exo has had a busy few months with efforts focused on fine-tuning the supply chain to upscale production, he told BakeryandSnacks.com. The company has joined forces with a US co-packer based on the East coast for the first large-scale production run.
“We’re now really excited to get our bars in as many people’s hands as possible.”
Exo is also set to roll out its products across gyms, natural food stores and cafes in the coming months and will launch two new flavors of its cricket protein bar in spring – cashew-ginger and peanut butter & jelly – in addition to its original cacao-nut flavor. So far, the bars have just been available online.
Lewis said the new flavors are set to surprise further. “Even those who were sceptical at first tend to become really positive about the idea once they realize that the bars taste delicious and not like whatever they expect crickets to taste like.”
Insect consumption… beyond crickets?
Asked if Exo had plans to move beyond crickets, Lewis said: “There are plans, yes, but nothing concrete. We’re doing some initial R&D on further applications of cricket flour (beyond just protein bars) right now. We’re certainly not opposed to moving beyond crickets to other insects, but that’s not our focus right now.”
However, he said that Exo would remain dedicated to using insects as a protein source. “Our mission is to normalize the consumption of insects and every product we develop will be created with that goal in mind.”
“Feedback has been phenomenal – both on the concept and the actual product. We get an overwhelming number of cold emails from people all over the world who understand the need for a more sustainable protein source and simply want to wish us luck.”
When a start-up booms
Looking back at 2013, the co-founder said his best moment had been the very first days on Kickstarter – the crowd-funding website for creative projects that got business started. The two entrepreneurs generated just shy of $50,000 in pledges from members of the public on the start-up site, which was almost enough to get a co-manufacturing contract and establish a solid business model.
“It took Exo from just an idea to something much more in a matter of hours and did a huge amount to help legitimize our vision.”