1. Give us your elevator pitch.
We are an insect technology startup and we breed an insect species called the black soldier fly as an alternative protein ingredient for animal feed. In particular, we target chicken and pig feed formulations.
2. How do you produce the product?
We have a production cycle but it all boils down to the breeding of the black soldier fly. Once the eggs have hatched, they are fed organic waste substrate until they become larvae. These larvae are very rich in protein, about 60%. This is when we harvest, process and sell the product.
3. How did you finance your startup?
We bootstrapped as we started it as a research project. We used our own money in the beginning but were later able to raise funds from an entrepreneurship competition called GoGettaz. This is currently financing most of our activities.
4. If you were given $1 million to invest in your company now, where would it go?
Straight into the production facility. The facility we have right now on the ground is a pilot one and limits our production capacity. We would invest in a large-scale facility to allow us to produce more bulky protein ingredients to supply the local market. So 60% would go towards the production facility: procurement of equipment, land, labour and everything involved with its construction.
The balance would be working capital to cover other expenses such as salaries.
5. What risks does your business face?
There are two areas we consider risky. The first is the availability of raw material. Our raw material is organic waste. If at any point we are unable to source enough organic waste to sustain production, we would not achieve our targets. I would consider that as the number one risk. We are mitigating this by making sure we have as many diverse organic waste sources as possible.
The second risk is that the use of insects for feed formulation is a fairly new industry. Some of our potential customers do not understand the concept and are hesitant to adapt to this new source of protein. We need to educate and present them with scientific facts.
6. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?
Our business model is B2B so we target feed mills and larger poultry farmers. We email and call decision-makers directly and this has been effective.
7. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.
That was when we raised our pre-seed funding. It is difficult to raise funding here. When you finally do raise funds, it is exciting.
8. Tell us about your biggest mistake and what you’ve learnt from it.
As a startup founder, my biggest mistake was hiring someone and trusting they could get the job done with minimum supervision. I would find out later they did not do as they were supposed to do and they had misled me into making decisions that were not ideal. I have learnt that even when I hire someone to take over something, I should always be on top of it; to never let a person fully handle a critical aspect of my business with minimal supervision.
credit – howwemadeitinafrica.com