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Mmmm, Crickets: How Exo Protein Bars Found Its Wings Two entrepreneurs are singing the praises of cricket-based protein bars.

By Jodi Helmer

This story appears in the May 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »


Entrepreneurs: Twentysomethings Gabi Lewis and Greg Sewitz met while attending Brown University, where they were roommates. After graduation, Lewis turned down a job with a hedge fund and Sewitz deferred grad school so they could launch New York-based Exo, a company that manufactures cricket-based protein bars.

"Aha" moment: Sewitz, who studied cognitive neuroscience and English at Brown, attended a conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he learned about insects as a sustainable food source. (The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, among others, have pointed to insects as an inexpensive source of protein, calcium and iron that emits fewer greenhouse gases during production than livestock.) Sewitz suggested that Lewis, who was making homemade protein bars as an alternative to sugary mass-market versions, consider adding crickets to his DIY recipe.

Bugging out: The duo ordered a box of live crickets to their campus apartment and started experimenting. After drying the insects in the oven, they ground them into a fine powder. To their surprise, the inaugural recipe for cacao nut protein bars tasted great. But they knew that to make their product marketable, they'd have to overcome the ick factor associated with eating insects.

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