We started from the university, now we are here. It was february 2015 when I read about crickets for the first time. I was doing my masters at Linköping University, we considered sustainability in almost every course. Crickets got me curious on day and I ordered some on ebay the same evening. The following 6 months I experimented in the kitchen. Cricket-smoothies, cricket-bread, cricket-bars, cricket-spreads, cricket-everything! Not with a particular aim other than finding a better protein for myself (better meaning healthier at an environmental cost that I am okay with).
The same summer I was out running with Isak. I pitched inescts for him and we both agreed that everyone should have the option to incorporate insects in their daily diet. We are both on the optimistic side and pretty soon after this eatem as a company was born.
Our first product was a chocolate covered hard bread with 20% cricket. It looked like this:
We made som speeches at various events about eating insects (suddenly we where experts..), let people try and give feedback and made tests with friends and family. About 2 months later we wanted to sell:em! We hade a problem; Swedish authorities did not consider crickets to be food. Several Swedish insect start ups gave up due to this a little bit later. We started eatem IVS, a danish company. We launched our e-commerce through eatem IVS in spring 2017. I personally packed and shipped all orders. It looked like this:
Six months later we decided that this product was not the best we could do. The eatem community of about 1000 people gave us feedback and we concluded that the chocolate covered hard bread was neither hard bread – neither candy. It was not super healthy, it was not super sweet. It was unclear when to eat it and hard to categorize.
We decided to make the most nutritious hard bread yet. It looked like this:
We wanted to make a cricket bar but did not have the funds to make it happen. Even the smallest batches possible is quite the investment for a self funded company – so we asked the eatem community for help thorugh kickstarter. They answered way faster and louder than expected. This is the campaign.
People from over 15 countries helped us (BIG THANKS!) make the first batch and this is the result:
We got the kickstarter money just one day before the production bill was due. The balance was otherwise closer to zero… Operating at the very limit of our economic capacity, and mental capacity, was not new so it did not become us. It was like this all the time during our first years, we where always operating on the margin.
e-commerce on a budget as a rookie does not guarantee any volumes. We figured our next move should be to hit the shelves, so we contacted the four largest supermarkets in Denmark. Naive, but we did not know how it was “supposed” to be done. SURPRISINGLY we did succeed. The following fall we launched in 500 stores nation wide in Denmark. We were so proud…
At this point we hade 2000 SEK in our marketing budget. It did not cover Demark with banners to make the nation aware of our existence… Also, big chains dictate terms and we did not get paid until 4 months later so our hand were pretty much tied. At this point I lost my energy. I do this for several reasons but I can only go so long without reward. Three years without a salary was my limit.
I spent the fall thinking about the past three years. Misstakes became lessons, regrets became tuitions. I decided to close shop or make a few significant changes. The idea of eatem take 2 took form.
Some key take aways extracted from important misstakes:
- Operating on a slim budget will effect your work – you will be handcuffed but forced to innovate.
- Doing everything yourself will teach you a lot but the misstakes are time consuming and therefore expensive – pick your battles.
- People describe their wants and needs in one way but often act in another way – dont trust words, trust behaviour.
- Assume that you are wrong, try to prove that you are wrong. If you dont succeed, then, maybe, you are right.
If you want to be a part of eatem, chat about crickets or just connect in any way. Send me a DM on instagram!
//Martin – founder