In the first part of our series, Josh and Harry, co-founders of Mophagy, told us what made them switch from selling Lego to selling insects. But how do you actually start up a startup dealing in bugs?
New Year, New Start
It was early January and we were sitting in my kitchen, elbow deep in product samples. We’d just been on a market run. Protein bars, cereal bars, porridge pots, instant noodles, baking mixes – any product that had potential for an insect powder additive were strewn across every available surface.
We were both in a bit of a quandary. Over the past few weeks we had been receiving insect samples from suppliers all over the world. Sustainability and nutritional credentials had been the spark to pursue the challenge of introducing insects as a food source to the EU. Intuition told us that whole insects would not go down well with the Western constitution, so that left us with the powder (or flour if you prefer – a naming debate to be saved for another post!); but what could it be best used for?
Maybe it was because our standard January ‘GIVE ME SOMETHING HEALTHY!’ routine was in full swing following the overindulgence of Christmas, but the nutritional qualities seemed the most striking benefit of the powder.
We did what any sensible startup founders do – we went to the pub.
"OK then," we thought, "a food product with health benefits it is." But as we stared at the array of healthy – or at least health targeted – breakfasts, bars, sauces and snacks in front of us we felt a little lost. Between us we had 60 years of experience in the food industry… but only as consumers!
So we did what any sensible startup founders do when a problem needs to be solved – we went to the pub. Over the course of that evening, inspired by the ‘creative nature’ of our new surroundings, we took a step back. What did we fundamentally want to achieve with our business? What did we stand for? What was at its core?
As the bell for final orders tolled we swayed out in to the night, clutching the company vision and mission we still have today. I’d love to say it had been scribbled on a napkin or beer mat or something… Clicking save on a word doc – as it was – doesn’t sound quite as sexy);
Vision: ‘Reimagining the future of food through insects’
To lead adoption through positive experiences, engaging content and ecosystem development. It is not just about products, it’s about realising the full potential of entomophagy.
Mission: ‘Inspire and develop the food of tomorrow’
Our core purpose is to inspire and develop people’s understanding of insects as a tasty, healthy and sustainable source of nutrition that can revolutionise the diets of future generations.
To support these lofty ambitions we decided upon 5 core elements that needed to be inherent in everything that we did: natural, nutritious, sustainable, fun and flavour.
Finally we both agreed that while aiming to improve the lives of future generations was a noble sentiment, it felt like we were delaying the potential good we could do today. We needed to find a charity partner who shared our ideals and could truly benefit from the support we would try to provide.
Looking back, that evening was one of the most important moments in the development of the company we run today. In our next post we’ll discuss how laying down these principals changed our approach to product – and business model – and how our first consumer insight session didn’t go quite as expected.