Ants, cricket powder, locusts… “All delicious” according to Ara Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship student Bex De Prospo. Bex and her business partners won the 85k Entré Challenge earlier this week with their start-up Anteater, which could bring more insects on to restaurant menus.
“Most people are new to eating insects and might not like the idea, but once they try it they notice it is tasty. Insects are healthy, sustainable and actually taste delicious,” says Bex.
Anteater tries to changes people’s perception about eating insects. The company works with high-end food producers to make delicious dishes from insects to be served in restaurants throughout New Zealand.
Their business case is strong, winning both the Grand Prize and Best Business Plan at the Entré 85k Challenge. The University of Canterbury competition gives entrants the chance to develop a business idea, into reality.
“I feel overwhelmed and immensely grateful. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever worked on in my life. We learned so much from those last few months already, I can’t imagine where we’ll be in half a year.”
Bex met her business partners (and UC students) Peter Randrup and Duncan Shand on Startup Weekend in April, a competition where students try to launch a business in 54 hours.
“We wanted to make a significant environmental difference with our company, and from there the idea was born. Most Startup participants work on hypothetical businesses, but we noticed a lot of momentum for our company, so we decided to go all the way for it.”
The team didn’t win at the Startup Weekend, but made the right decision to participate for the Entré 85k Challenge. Although that was a close call…
“I only found out about the Entré Challenge on the last registration day. My tutor told me about it, so I quickly signed up. I never expected to take home the Grand Prize!”
Anteater focuses on selling four core products: locusts, which are farmed in Otago; cricket powder, which are imported from Canada and huhu grubs and ants, which are both wild harvested in Canterbury.
“Insects are a great and sustainable alternative to meat. They’re already available in the Roots Restaurant in Lyttelton, Antoine’s Restaurant in Auckland, Vault 21 in Dunedin and Mexico Restaurant.”
The Anteater team won $22,500 in cash and prizes, which will come in handy for their next plans.
“We are going overseas on a research trip to Thailand and Cambodia. We’ll meet with chefs and exporters. We want to learn more about products there and research exporting and importing options.”
The Entré Challenge gives students a real change in pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams. And Bex wasn’t the only Ara student who won a prize at the 85k Challenge. Recent Ara Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Nutrition) graduate Emma Walker and her team won the Best App award with their meal planning app.