Gabi Lewis, Explore

Project Overview 

Protein bars typically taste terrible and are loaded with artificial, processed ingredients. Most use soy protein, which is detrimental to our bodies; those that opt for whey typically sacrifice quality. Almost all are incredibly high in sugar and/or unnatural sweeteners. Additionally No existing protein bars meet the requirements of the Paleolithic diet – a movement, based on the belief that our eating patterns should mimic those of our ancestors, which is rapidly gaining momentum.

We face a global food crisis. The world population will reach 9 billion by 2040 requiring our food production to triple in less than 3 decades. There currently exists no sustainable protein source for the future. Livestock is destroying our planet, accounting for 30% of greenhouse gases even at current levels of consumption. Plant-based proteins are low in amino acids and incomplete.

Ento offers a single elegant solution to the above problems. Ento creates energy bars using a revolutionary source of protein: cricket flour. Cricket flour is ultra-healthy and truly paleo. It is lower in fat/carbohydrates and higher in protein than alternatives.

Cricket flour also represents the first viable solution to our global food crisis. Cricket flour requires a fraction of the resources to produce compared to other protein sources and emits a fraction of the greenhouse gases of livestock. When produced at sufficient scale, crickets are uniquely affordable.

Ento combines cricket flour with other all-natural and organic ingredients to create a truly sustainable superfood that is great for you and great for the planet. 

Expectations

The purpose of the BVLF grant is twofold. Firstly, it will be used to finalize the recipe for Ento Bars. Specifically, it will be used to provide a near constant supply of live crickets (to be roasted and ground into flour), as well as ingredients such as almond butter, dried berries and coconut oil, to Ento’s chef in LA. We anticipate that in ~3 weeks we will have finalized the recipe. Secondly, it will be used to create a batch of ~200 bars in order for us to gather feedback and fully validate the product and idea.

Reflection

The first goal was largely achieved. We now have a working recipe that is one or two further iterations away from perfection. It tastes great and broadly satisfies the strict nutritional profile that we sought to match. Achieving this goal took more resources than planned for, however, and we were therefore unable to create as large of a batch as planned to gather feedback. Informal feedback was gathered on provisional recipes and this broadly confirmed our ideas but the sample size was not large enough to fully validate our assumptions. As such, we will be producing a larger batch in order to gather more extensive feedback in the coming weeks. Ento has also been working with a designer and now has a beautiful logo and bar packaging designs.

Grant Evaluation

Ento creates energy bars using a revolutionary protein source: cricket flour. Cricket flour is the healthiest and most efficient source of protein on the planet. Not only is it a complete source of protein with high bioavailability but also, it represents the first viable solution to our global food crisis, requiring a fraction of the resources to produce than comparable protein sources. Ento combines this revolutionary protein source with organic nuts, fruits and honey to create a truly sustainable superfood that is great for you and great for the planet.

With the BVLF grant of $500, the following was achieved:

  • A recipe that is very close perfect. It tastes fantastic and broadly satisfies the nutritional profile that we sought to match (low sugar, high protein, paleo etc.). This was achieved through providing a near constant supply of crickets to Ento’s chef in LA, Jon Sewitz, who tirelessly iterated until a recipe matching our specifications was achieved.
  • Some initial feedback that validates the idea. Specifically, we have reactions from ~50 people on cricket bars in general and Ento’s recipe in particular. Whilst this preliminary feedback seems confirms the viability of Ento Bar, the sample size was too small to warrant a high degree of confidence (we are currently using a $1500 BVLF grant to obtain more extensive feedback, amongst other things).
  • A working logo, bar packaging designs and large box (to hold 12 bars) designs.

There was no shortage of learning to accompany the aforementioned milestones. Some of these were particular to Ento; others are applicable beyond this specific project and even (social) entrepreneurship in general. The following learnings will be incorporated into our plans and assumptions as Ento moves forward:

  • People don’t know or care about nutrition as much as we had previously thought. What we had thought was too much sugar, for example (and is too much for me), is not too much for the majority of our target market, even high performance CrossFitters. Similarly, if you tell someone that “x is a superfood”, they will probably believe you blindly.
  • Peer pressure matters hugely. People will try something they secretly think is disgusting if those around them, or a single person they admire, is eating it. Obviously, we knew this was important but, we underestimated just how important. We will take this into account by focusing our marketing effort on influencers.
  • The founding team is key. Again, this sounds like something obvious but I had assumed that 2 great people = a great 2 person team. Synergy was missing with my first co-founder but I have now someone on board who is more of a thought partner than just an extra worker.