After Startup Weekend Christchurch in May 2016, Anteater have well and truly caught the edible insect bug.
Anteater source edible insects for restaurants and high end food producers. They provide chefs with fresh crunchy critters to help them stand out and attract more diners.
We caught up with Co-Founders Peter Randrup and Rebecca De Prospo (Bex) to talk about their journey through Startup Weekend and beyond.
So what’s been happening with Anteater since Startup Weekend back in May?
Peter: We’ve been busy that’s for sure. We have continued to grow our customer base, been on a bug research mission to South East Asia, and supplied TedX Christchurch with sky prawns (locusts). We took out the Grand Prize at the University of Canterbury’s Entré 85K Challenge, and we have a few bigger projects on the go like supplying insects for Te Papa’s Bug Lab exhibition which just opened on 10 December.
Thinking back to where it all started, what can you tell us about your Startup Weekend experience:
Bex: I bought my ticket from a friend’s Facebook post at the last minute having no experience and not knowing anyone… and now my life is completely unrecognisable. I have nothing but good things to say about Startup Weekend. It completely transformed my life!
Peter: I think it’s a fantastic event. Really cool. It was my second one, and I went there not intending to pitch, but I brought an idea just in case. About 25 people had pitched and nothing had resonated with me so I jumped up and pitched ‘edible bugs’ and got a fantastic response!
It was so much fun over the weekend, we got out in the field, out of our comfort zones, we nailed it.
One weekend goes by pretty fast. What did you learn in that time?
Bex: To every member of our team the learning was more important than the competition. Rather than just throwing up a survey and going through market validation as an exercise we went out and talked to people in restaurants and at farmers markets. This is where the learning happened. On that weekend we even got our first customer..
Peter: I walked in and pitched the idea to Giulio Sturla at Roots Restaurant [Cuisine Magazine’s Restaurant of the Year 2015] and he was all over it. He was so keen. They’re still a great customer.
Bex: Meanwhile I was outside getting shouted at by people on the street.. ‘Why are you trying to survey me? I’m at the Farmers Markets.. Move along!’ hahaha
So during Startup Weekend you met your first customer, any other significant connections?
Peter: Yeah Roots Restaurant… and of course Bex who became my business partner =)
Bex: Yeah, Peter! …contacts in the chef community, Geoff Brash who ended up being our mentor during the Entré competition and will remain a close friend and ally of our business. We also keep bumping into chefs who we cold-called or connected with during Startup Weekend.
What tips do you have for first-timers at Startup Weekend?
Peter: I would say take passion, know where your skills are, and fully embrace it. Get to know your customer inside and out. Talk with them, really try and understand them.
I think Bex and I work well together as we have the same values, but different skillsets. So look for teammates with those attributes.
Bex: I would have liked someone to tell me before I went that if you are going to pitch, you don’t need to have a fully formed business plan in mind, just an idea.
Be really clear on the problem you are trying to solve. Be aware that to solve this problem you may need to solve a different problem for your customer. We want to solve sustainable food, but chefs want easy access to items which can help differentiate their offering.
What’s the next big focus for Anteater?
Bex: Increasing our production capacity and market expansion which will likely involve export as the New Zealand market is only so big.
Between now and March, we are pretty busy at Re:START Christmas market (Dec 15-16, and 22-23), the Great Hagley Beer Festival (Jan 28 2017), Splore Festival near Auckland (Feb 17-19 2017), and Nostalgia Festival (Mar 4 2017).
Wow, busy! I better let you get on with it. Any last words?
Bex: Regarding Startup Weekend, my advice is ‘go’. To anyone who is thinking about going, just go. I’m the perfect example of going to a Startup Weekend and your whole life changing. You don’t need to have an idea or to know other people that are going.
And if you want to know more about us check out Anteater.co.nz
If you want to try any of our products we are in every major centre over the summer, or head to Te Papa while the Bug Lab exhibition is on. Or we can let you know of a restaurant near you that has our edible insects.
Peter: Yeah, get in touch with us if you have any questions, or ideas or anything. Just flick us an email or message.
Thanks Peter and Bex!
If you have any questions about Startup Weekend Christchurch in May 2017 you can find more information and register here. Feel free to join our Facebook group for updates.
The interview and post is by Alex Procter, one of the organisers for Startup Weekend Christchurch 2017.