DG: How did you validate that there was a market for your product?
GL: At first it was just through talking to people. We took the very first batch of bars we made at home to our local CrossFit gym to get feedback, and everyone was blown away. People couldn't believe they were eating crickets, and those crickets tasted great, they were healthy! The next day we decided to test our product on a more conservative audience and went to our local farmer's market, but the reaction was just as positive.
DG: At what point did you know that you had found product/market fit?
GL: We did a Kickstarter campaign right after graduating from college and starting to work on the company full-time. We flew past our initial goal in the first couple days, raising $55k in a month, and that was the initial proof of concept we then leaned on to raise capital and scale the business.
DG: Who are Exo’s customers? How do you get them over the yuck factor?
GL: At first we focused on the Paleo and CrossFit markets, but now it's pretty much anyone who is interested in a healthy or sustainable snack. Our customers are incredibly varied — from athletes who use our bars as pre-workout fuel, to kids who enjoy them as an afternoon snack, or former vegans looking for an ethical source of protein.
As for the yuck factor, we've found most people are willing to at least try a cricket bar, so driving that first taste is the key. In person, we'll do that through demos, and online we'll do it through selling low-priced sampler packs with free shipping and removing as much of the friction to trial as possible.
DG: What is your channel strategy and why?
GL: We focus primarily on direct-to-consumer through our website. This strategy has allowed us to build a community of passionate early adopters who are excited about insect protein, as opposed to our product getting lost in a sea of similar-looking protein bars in a retail environment.