Investors just bet $4 million that this startup will convince you to eat crickets

Exo insect protein bars cricket flour
If you can’t imagine yourself eating whole bugs, you’re probably not familiar with the dietary habits of ancient societies and some modern parts of the world today. You’ve also probably never heard of Exo, the insect protein company making protein bars out of cricket flour. But if Exo and the investors who just poured $4 million into Exo’s series A funding round have anything to say about it, you’ll be munching on cricket snacks sooner than you might realize.

Greg Sewitz and Gabi Lewis are the entrepreneurial duo behind Exo, and they believe firmly in the possibility of bug proteins. They’re not alone – two billion people around the world today rely on insects as a source of protein. Exo got its start as a business when Sewitz and Lewis ordered a box of live crickets off the Internet, stored them in the freezer, and then turned their frozen remains into ground cricket flour that they used instead of whey powder to make protein bars. Crickets and other insects are high in protein and low in calories, and have even been hailed by the UN as a sustainable solution to global poverty and population increase issues.

Exo insect protein cricket flour bugs
Visun Khankasem/123RF.com
Visun Khankasem/123RF.com

Exo’s strategy for boosting popular opinion about insect proteins is to use is them in foods that people already eat. If it’s too much for someone to pop a whole cricket in his mouth, maybe it will be easier to eat a protein bar made of unrecognizable cricket flour. And beyond protein bars, Exo plans to create a series of cricket flour products that popularize the benefits of insect proteins. “We’ll use this as a replacement for whey powder, soy powder, and eventually beef and eggs”, said Sewitz.

When Sewitz and Lewis were experimenting with cricket flour protein bars in college, their product got some attention in natural food stores and from customers who were already on the insect protein bandwagon. Other startups have had success crowdfunding insect protein products in the past, so Exo knew that their idea wasn’t the craziest thing to hit the market. The company’s most recent funding round was led by Accel Foods, and resulted in an additional $4 million of investments on top of the $1.6 million Exo had already received. Considering the nutritional and environmental benefits of choosing insect proteins over cattle, the switch to cricket flour is starting to look more appealing than ever.

Mobile

Photograph your meal with the Foodvisor app for caloric, nutritional estimates

Many of us understand the importance of a healthy diet, but counting calories and diving into nutritional data is a lot of work. The Foodvisor app for Android or iOS gives you a calorific and nutritional breakdown of your food from a photo.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Here’s how to download podcasts and listen to them on Android or iOS

Podcasts have become a cultural staple. Here's how to download podcasts and listen to them on your Android or iOS device, and which apps to use if you're looking to get the most out of the format.
Social Media

Twitter suffers privacy scare as bug reveals tweets of protected accounts

If you set your Twitter account to private and you have an Android device, you'd better check your settings now. Twitter says it's just fixed a four-year-old bug that flipped the privacy switch to make the account public.
Emerging Tech

Water-based fuel cell converts carbon emissions to electricity

Scientists from Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have developed a system which can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen by dissolving carbon dioxide in an aqueous solution.
Emerging Tech

Scientists investigate how massive stars die in dramatic hypernova events

Our Sun will gradually fade before expanding into a red giant at the end of its life. But larger mass stars undergo extreme explosive events called hypernovas when they die which outshine their entire galaxies.
Emerging Tech

Pilotless planes are on their way, but would you fly in one?

Airbus says advancements in artificial intelligence can help it toward its goal of building a plane capable of fully autonomous flight, though whether passengers can be persuaded to travel in one is another matter entirely.
Emerging Tech

‘Tech vest’ prevents Amazon workers from colliding with robot co-workers

Amazon workers at its fulfillment centers are using "tech vests" to help protect them from collisions with their robot co-workers. The robots already have obstacle avoidance sensors, but the belt offers another layer of safety.
Emerging Tech

3D printers are finally affordable. Here are the best models under $500

3D printer prices have dropped dramatically over the past few years, but just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. Here, we’ve rounded up all the cheap 3D printers that are actually worth spending your money on.
Mobile

T-Mobile 5G rollout: Here is everything you need to know

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.
Emerging Tech

ANYmal dog robot can get back on its feet when someone pushes it over

Roboticists at ETH Zurich have demonstrated how their ANYmal four-legged robot is capable of taking a kicking and keeping on walking -- or getting back to its feet if it's pushed over.
Emerging Tech

A.I. finds non-infringing ways to copy drugs pharma spends billions developing

Researchers have demonstrated an artificial intelligence which can find new methods for producing existing pharmaceuticals in a way that doesn’t infringe on existing patents. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Coinstar machines will let you swap cash for Bitcoin at your local grocery store

Coinstar, the company which owns the coin exchange machines found at grocery stores and elsewhere, will soon let you easily buy Bitcoin with your cash money. Here's how it will work.
Emerging Tech

Facebook hasn’t given up on the idea of building an internet drone

Facebook's efforts to provide internet connectivity from the skies using solar-powered drones suffered a blow last year when the company abandoned its "Aquila" drone project. But the company clearly hasn't given up on the idea.