Our Story

IN JANUARY 2013, WE ORDERED 2,000 LIVE CRICKETS TO OUR HOUSE ON BROWN UNIVERSITY’S CAMPUS...


They arrived in two shoebox-sized containers. And they were very, very loud. We wanted to find out if we could make a food product using insects that actually tasted good. Armed with Google research, a vague recipe for cricket flour, an oven, and a blender, it was time to walk the walk...

Gabi had created a basic protein bar recipe while on his own quest to make a snack both healthy and delicious, prompted by his frustration at the nutrition-taste tradeoff marring everything commercially available. The idea to add insects came when Greg, one of Gabi’s five college roommates, attended a conference at MIT on the breakdown of global systems that sparked a conversation about insects’ tremendous environmental benefits relative to other food sources. He intuitively understood that only by combining insects with something more familiar—protein bars, for example—could people here be convinced to eat them.

After the rather noisy order arrived, we got busy with our Vitamix and oven to make cricket flour—losing only a few escape artists in the process. We nailed a recipe pretty quickly; it had respectable nutritionals and tasted damn good. Eager for some unbiased feedback, we took samples to a local CrossFit gym. When one of the trainers yelled to the rest of the class that the bars were “not good—they [were] fucking great,” we knew we had something special: a product with tremendous social value that people actually wanted.

We graduated in May ‘13 and immediately moved to New York City, determined to make that product a reality. Growing awareness of the advantages of insect food sources—like a 200-page United Nations Report detailing the environmental, social and nutritional benefits—legitimized the idea with the popular media.

We teamed up with a rock star chef who used to head up research and development at The Fat Duck Restaurant, considered one of the best and most progressive restaurants in the world. To prove that there was indeed a market for insect-based foods, we launched a Kickstarter in late July; within 72 hours, we had reached our $20,000 goal. By the end of the month, we had raised almost $55,000 from over 1,000 individuals who believed in our vision.

And so here we are. After countless double-takes and I just don’t think you can do its, we’re doing it. Gabi turned down a job at a hedge fund. Greg deferred grad school. All because we believe that insect protein has an awesome role to play in the future of our food. Now we just have to convince everyone else.

— Greg and Gabi

Founders of Exo