The Future of Protein by Jenna Abdou

While most 21 year olds spend their Friday nights sipping drinks at local bars or going to parties, I spend mine making homemade nut butter. Thus you can only imagine my delight meeting Greg Sewitz and Gabi Lewis who are pioneering the next generation of healthy protein bars with their New York startup Exo Protein. 

I immediately identified with the bars and their ingredients as we make many of the same types at home. Almonds, check. Cacao, check. Honey, check. Crickets - 911! NO CHECK.    

Yes, crickets, you read it right. The crickets have a nutty flavor and are hardly identifiable in the bars;  And with Exo serving up flavors like Blueberry Vanilla, Cacao Nut, and PB & J, they’re even Mario Batali approved.

Before I scare you away I’ll start out with the health benefits of consuming crickets that  Gabi and Greg shared: 
  • High in protein with essential amino acids. 
  • Low in saturated fats and sugar. 
  • Rich in micro nutrients like iron (crickets have more than beef), calcium (higher levels than milk), and B vitamins.  

In addition, crickets are 20x more efficient to raise than cattle, requiring little space, less feed and producing 80% fewer methane emissions.

For Gabi and Greg, each person who incorporates cricket protein into their diet is making the world a more sustainable place and they’re using buttons that read “I just ate crickets!” and “Crickets are delicious!” to spread the message. 

Although they recognize the challenge ahead, the founders are targeting early adopters (think Cross fitters and Paleo fanatics) to gain social capital and inspire a movement.

What’s most exciting about Exo is the startup’s potential to be the leader in the next generation of food resources (Think of disruptive startups like Uber and AirBnb ), which is a testament to their lead investor, Tim Ferriss', who claims that an opportunity to invest in a company like Exo comes along every few decades. 

I certainly agree with Tim and envision Gabi and Greg on 30 under 30 amidst a variety of cricket based health foods that will make Exo a household name. 

To learn more about Gabi and Greg’s mission tune into their episode of 33founders and head over to Exo to try your first cricket bar! 

Further Reading
  • How MeUndies Made Merchandising Their Competitive Advantage — When MeUndies thinks about their underwear subscription service they compare themselves to Netflix. What the streaming pioneer did for TV, the Los Angeles startup wants to do to your underwear drawer. The goal is to provide monthly subscribers with the staples they love while delivering elements of surprise - Think briefs with donuts and dinosaurs - right to your doorstep.
  • Seedling Relies on Childhood Curiosity to Inspire a Creative Team — On a recent flight home, I spent over an hour browsing a children’s play website, completely enamored by sets like Design Your Own Superhero Cape and Invent Your Own Insects. After sharing Seedling with everyone I know, despite few of my friends having children, I wondered why the brand struck a such a meaningful chord with me.
  • eero Designs Wi-Fi for the Smart Home Era — Nikhil Basu Trivedi, Principal at Shasta Ventures, recently distinguished exceptional founders by their ability to prioritize. “It all comes back to prioritization, speed, paranoia, and knowing that if you don’t iterate, even after finding product market fit, you can be disrupted by the next product,” he says.

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