Social media can often be the source of endless distraction from the daily grind of work. But for Alex Drysdale of Crik Nutrition, amongst all the posts about cats and ‘Which Frozen song are you?’ was the inspiration for his company.
“I was sitting on Facebook one morning and (writer/entrepreneur) Tim Ferriss posted something about Exo protein bars, and a cricket protein bar they had,” said Alex. “I wanted to try making something with lots of crickets in it, so I figured protein powder, because the crickets come powdered and I use protein powder every day.”
Alex had been an employee of CN Rail for 10 years, and was also working in real estate, but made the decision to walk away from CN and sell his properties (and most of his possessions) and start life as an entrepreneur.
“There were tons of other companies making cricket products, but there was nobody making protein powder” said Alex.
Repeated Internet searches found that there wasn’t any competition in the cricket protein powder market, so Alex began looking into the research and development aspect of starting up the company.
He found a company in Vancouver willing to allow him to test the product first before committing, and Alex spent months working on the formula.
“It probably could have went a little quicker, but I had a strong idea in my head of what I wanted to be as opposed to making something just to get it out there,” said Alex. “I needed it to taste really good, and I wanted cricket to be around 90% of the ingredients, but that’s just not viable with the price of crickets right now so it’s currently around 30%, and it tastes really good, you can’t tell the difference between it and anything else.”
Growing the brand
Alex gets his crickets from Next Millennium Farms in Ontario, and while he has no immediate plans to set up a cricket farm of his own, he notes it is a possibility down the road once Crik Nutrition gains more traction.
“We’ll be doing organic lines; there are different products we can expand into,” said Alex.” “There are different flavours of protein, different types of nutrition like the protein bars or trail mixes. There are vitamins and minerals that we can extract from the crickets and nobody’s doing that. There’s lots of room to grow, and it’s an exciting time.”
Alex plans to get into research and development and manufacturing at some point, but first the Crik Nutrition brand must grow.
“Right now I need to focus on brand. You can’t protect ‘cricket protein powder’. Anybody can make that, it’s too broad of a range to patent. What we need to do is focus on building on brand and making sure that we’re the Coca-Cola of crickets. Get that out there and make sure we have a high quality product so we do stay in the lead.”
Home is where the help is
Alex has seen a lot of support from organizations such as Innovate Manitoba, YES! Winnipeg and Futurpreneur.
“There’s a really good growing community here, and meeting other start-ups that are going on right now in Manitoba, you can see this place is really booming,” said Alex. “It’s kind of cool to see, I didn’t know this was really here. There’s just tons and tons of support. Lots of people giving us advice and pointing us in the right directions when they don’t have to, and it’s been a big, big help that’s going to help us grow a lot faster.”