111: Sarah Schlafly (Mighty Cricket)

Sarah Schlafly on Innovation City

“It’s the one-to-one relationships that I have built that sparked it all, because you meet those people and they are the ones who introduce you to everyone else.” — Sarah Schlafly

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Sarah Schlafly, CEO of Mighty Cricket. Mighty Cricket is a cricket protein based food company whose mission is to transform everyday foods into rich sources of sustainable and superior quality protein. Sarah sits down with the team to discuss how she came up with Mighty Cricket, the benefits of consuming cricket protein, her entrepreneurial journey to getting Mighty Cricket to market, the importance of understanding where and when to get funding, the benefits of having mentors as an entrepreneur, and much more!

They discuss:

  • Her grandmother, who lived during the great depression, never went hungry because her family owned a bakery
    • Sarah wanted to provide the same stability for her own daughter through Mighty Cricket
  • Previous work teaching cooking classes for people who are on food stamps
    • Sarah would take their food stamp budget and find healthy meal options for them to purchase and cook at home
  • Protein is one of the most expensive parts of feeding a family
  • Cheap protein is generally pumped full of antibiotics and hormones
  • Americans consume more soy than any other country because of how much is added to our everyday foods
  • 2 billion people across 8% of the world consume insects as a source of protein
  • The US has a cultural perception that eating insects is degrading or meant for a lower class of people
  • Cricket protein is also high in vitamin B-12 and iron
  • While fully in-tact crickets can seem daunting to eat, Sarah found that she can manipulate them by grounding them down into a powder
  • Bugs get ground up with wheat which ends up becoming food people buy everyday
  • Eating whole bugs requires you to overcome your mental barriers that wouldn’t let you
  • What does a cricket taste like?
    • Whole: like a roasted nut
    • Powdered: neutral with nutty undertones
  • Crickets work well with chocolate and mushrooms
  • Started off selling in farmers markets for consumer feedback
  • Recently launched Mighty Cricket in 50 different St. Louis restaurants and cafes
    • The powder is being used in items like crepes, cupcakes, & frozen yogurt
  • Her struggle in getting started was that she had to do a lot of education on her product before people understood and wanted to work with her
  • Being very selective with which retailers she’s working with
  • If a product fails in store, it’s hard to get a second chance to go back into that store
  • Looking to get into more retail stores in the future
  • Mighty Cricket is the first to market in St. Louis and is one of the first in the Midwest
  • Pulling knowledge from her past entrepreneurial experience
  • The importance of focusing on funding
  • Most of her marketing has been free from local press
  • Many entrepreneurs don’t realize how much grant money is out there
  • The importance of having mentors as an entrepreneur
  • ITEN and Venture Cafe have been great resources
  • Mighty Cricket protein is a clean product
    • I.E. no pesticides, no stress at time of harvest, and the crickets eat their natural food
  • Cricket protein also has a positive environmental impact
  • Sarah sources crickets from all over the world
  • In 2-5 years, Sarah would like to land into 1 national fast-casual food chain and scale up from there
  • Connect with Mighty Cricket on their website, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & LinkedIn