Interview with Bicky Nguyen, cofounder of Cricketone
Tell us how you got involved in the edible insects world
Nam, my cofounder and I always have strong belief in sustainability with interest in making social impact since the last exited IoT AgriTech startup helping farmers saving water and fertilizer while increasing the yield. We’ve been studying about this alternative protein field, and happened to watch a TedTalk session as well as reading about other suppliers in Europe and North America, we believe with the natural favorable condition in Vietnam, we can do better in term of farming technology and feeding structure cost.
What about Cricketone project?
We developed self-grown system in a 40ft containers. These units yield the same quantity of crickets of a typical 100m² farm. The farming process is almost completely automated. The units get opened for 5 to 10 minutes per day, when crickets are fed through feeding trays. During the rest of the time, the unit runs by itself. We have a climate control system that creates the ideal conditions for the crickets to grow, like temperature, pressure and moisture. All the parameters are monitored by sensors and our management software activates the climate control system, once the condition go below or beyond the optimal level. It’s a smart system that imitates how crickets grow in nature, so there’s very little human involvement. This way, we reduce labor costs and eliminate most of the risk coming from human mistake and alien insects.
We mainly use cassava, leaves in particular, contain up to 20-22% of proteins and they’re also rich in minerals, fibers and copper. We have the technology to eliminate cyanide and condense the leftovers and create a higher-quality feed. Our process doesn’t require a lot of energy, only a bit of labor. Vietnam is one of the largest exporters of cassava worldwide and cassava is one of the most important crops grown in the country. There are thousands of farmers growing cassava. During harvest season, they typically burn the leaves and branches on the field.
We provide the local cassava farmers with the breeding units at no upfront cost, train them how to process cassava leftovers into feed, and how to farm the crickets for an extra earning.
What products are you marketing at the moment?
We are supplying cricket protein powder directly to food producers and retailers, we also have regional distributors. We plan to have also refined cricket oil and hydrolysis amino acid powder launched as pilot product after mid 2018.
What’s your social aim?
We aim to improve the livelihoods of minimum 80 local cassava farmers in Vietnam by end of 2018 and bring the number to over 1000 by 2022. On the side of environmental impact, we work to save 2 billion liters of water in 2018 and reduce greenhouse gas in 2018.
Are you interested in western markets?
Europe is one of our main target market together with North America and some dominant Asian ones such as Japan, Korea and Australia. We have now 3 active distributors in Europe with an Sales&Marketing Operation Office registered in The Hague, Netherlands.