Entomon: the reliable cricket-rearing chamber

From scavengers to small scale farmers.

A user friendly, home-kit to raise and produce insects--made with recycled material that is durable and cheap.

Use Case

Juan has a family in sub-urban mexico and has recently purchased five Entomons; he instructs his children about the daily upkeep and they raise enough each week to have a nutrient rich meal and also sell the remaining crickets to a central processing facility. Telia is a mother in Africa developing osteoporosis; she collectively manages multiple Entomons and ultimately consumes the crickets at every yield. With increased amounts of calcium and amino-acids, she decreases her bone degeneration rate and prevents protein deficiencies in her children. Ty is a young school boy in rural Asia; his school has been granted ten Entomons. Ty and other classmates take great interest and pride in learning the methods/science behind rearing crickets--and are happy to consume them during school lunches.

Potential

Urban farming needs to increase because available farmlands are decreasing. More efficient foods need to be produced because current food systems will not support the expanding population. An Entomon is space efficient, can be done by anyone, and requires low input (water, feed) to produce large quantities of nutritionally dense food (insects). The establishment of our product can equip many people with the ability to farm their own super foods--they have the option to consume, sell, or augment this food source as livestock feed. Together, Entomon and its users will boost the movement to utilize an untapped resource and join the fight toward a food secure future.

Business Case

Thousands of companies worldwide use these containers to ship their product. Some companies pay recycling fees to rid their surplus of barrels and we are establishing agreements to inherit a percentage of their wasted supply (or purchase large quantities for cheap). They will be compensated with a great public-relation profile and cost-free removal. We then produce Entomons and place them on the market--or--link the raw material to an international distribution channel for our product to be made and sold within other countries by Entomon alliances (employees or NGOs). The input cost of material and manufacturing is inexpensive; in short time, users can cover the cost of their investments from the returns of their Entomon's output.

Objectives:

  1. Using less water & less space to make more protein & more nutrients; empowering people to enhance their diets and their incomes.
  2. Distributing appropriate technologies to stabilize and increase the available supply of insects year round--by farming them.
  3. Raising awareness & showcasing the real value of insects as a super-food. Uprooting the status quo by altering perspectives.

Team Entomon

Texas, USA

Our Team

From Producer to User / Published January 10, 2016 by Landry Tucker

From Producer to User

This is a simplified flow chart of our short term business model that resembles the flow of an Entomon: starting with raw material to final product and user.

*NGO stands for non-governmental organizations.

Short Term Business Plan / Published January 6, 2016 by Sloane Ansell

Short Term Business Plan

There are many initiatives to assist farmers in Latin America to diversify their incomes. Neighboring farmers commonly plant the same crops as each other. When they sell their yields, markets become saturated thus profits drop significantly.

When we approached the Norman Borlaug Institute with our idea during the semester, they saw Entomon as a potential catalyst for this effort.

The purpose of our endeavors in Latin/South America is to establish Entomon's credibility. We understand that a new product cannot be successfully employed in other nations (or made available to consumers in markets) without a real-world set of trial and errors. Therefor, we are utilizing our immediate resources to create a financially viable pilot-program to test our product before expanding to other regions and cultures.

Our goals will be to understand the problems of our first-adopters, further develop the product and methods to reflect their needs, improve the barrel distribution and conversion process, and strengthen our supply-chain ties for the future.

Long Term Business Plan / Published January 5, 2016 by Sloane Ansell

Long Term Business Plan

During our initial launch in Latin America, we will undoubtedly face opportunities and matters that we have yet to encounter--and these insights will assist in our approach towards international affairs.

This "Long Term" canvas is how we currently foresee the differences in our two business models. It considers multiple factors that will be better understood as we continue to move forward.

Entomon's Potential In Aquaculture Feed / Published January 3, 2016 by Garrett Hayslip

Entomon's Potential In Aquaculture Feed

Fish farming is well established. It has been around for centuries and became increasingly popular when wild fish populations were no longer viewed as a sustainable source for growing demands. Over the past 40 years, aquaculture feed production has rapidly expanded in order to satisfy the appetites for fish in a variety of fish farms.

Dr. Albert G.J. Tacon, aquatic research director of Aquatic Farms Ltd. in Hawaii wrote, "If aquaculture is to play a major role in the food security of low income developing countries as a much needed and affordable source of high-quality animal protein, then it is essential that the farmed species be produced using low-cost sustainable farming methods." (http://www.fao.org/livestock/agap/frg/ECONF95/PDF/TACON.PDF). Much of the input cost of aquaculture lies in the expensive feed, "In order to maintain profitability, farm-made aquafeeds present a much cheaper option for farmers compared to commercial aquafeeds. In contrast to industrially produced aquafeeds, farm-made aquafeeds allow the small-scale farmer to tailor feed inputs to their own financial resources and requirements, and facilitate the use of locally available agricultural products which may otherwise have limited use within the community." (For example, crickets in a culture that may not practice entomophagy).

I began to wonder if I could feed the goldfish outside my house with the crickets that we raise. I took about two hundred 3 week-old crickets from my Entomon and placed them into the freezer (this is the most humane way to harvest crickets for consumption because they enter a dormant state that slows their metabolism). Then I baked them in the oven and ground the crickets to a flakey state that resembles store-bought fish feed. I placed my GoPro camera at the bottom of the pond, spread the cricket flakes, and watched the fish feast.

In western applications, where entomophagy is relatively scarce, insect farming is still applicable for feeding livestock. Aquafeed for carnivorous fish species is very dependent on fishmeal (processed fish) for dietary protein. In the last decade, demand for fishmeal has exceeded supply causing prices to increase dramatically. As a result, the use of essential, protein-rich fishmeal has become a ingredient in aquafeed. Crickets could be supplemented as a valuable protein alternative.

https://youtu.be/bNVEv9kPoBY?t=16m6s

The video link above contains a lot of great information from the World Nutrition Forum that discusses the economical and environmental challenges faced by the aquaculture industry. The whole talk is insightful, but the video will begin at 16:06 to jump into pertinent information on the topic. Go back to 10:16 if you have some extra time.

A Prime Example of Our Potential / Published January 3, 2016 by Landry Tucker

A Prime Example of Our Potential

https://youtu.be/Acxbx-DUkL4?t=10m15s

Watch the first three minutes of this video from where it begins (it's quite entertaining).

In Thailand, children scavenge the areas around their homes for crickets after a day at school. The following day, the children bring their previously caught crickets to be combined with other children's collections, and this constitutes their daily lunch. Essentially, these children feed themselves during school by picking insects from fields the day prior.

Entomon has tremendous potential in situations like this. We have reliable material that can be easily managed and stored, even by young children. With multiple Entomons (and some supervision), these children could be taught methods to farm massive amounts of crickets for their classmates and their lunches. The information pertinent to raising crickets could be integrated in an approach to teach/learn fundamental ideas in biology--and could thus improve their skills in rearing the crickets. Children would in turn discuss these processes with their parents and could engage them in cricket farming as well.

Here is another important point we haven't emphasized quite enough:

An Entomon will always be coupled with education.

And education for successfully raising and breeding crickets is not very difficult. A cricket's life cycle is short and the Entomon upkeep is not laborious. Naturally, crickets raise themselves. Being a self-taught cricket farmer is certainly a challenge, as I have had a few failures in my last five months of raising crickets. However, these factors were controlled and improved--and we now have successful yields with our product.

We are currently working to develop instructional material to integrate with methods of correctly raising crickets through an Entomon... so that even school children can do it.

In the blog about our Texas A&M challenge, Garrett mentions "...yes, that's right, other students at A&M are farming crickets, too." And this is true. We have two friends who live together that manage their own Entomon with over two thousand crickets. We usually make a weekly trip to their garage. We check their temperature and humidity levels, thoroughly learn about any problems they have, assist with the upkeep, and generally maintain the lives of the crickets. Since our beta users are close to us, monitoring their progress isn't difficult--but what about people who are using our product in other countries? In our current position, questions like this aren't the easiest to answer. If Entomon employees, NGOs, or members from other aid-organizations were first taught to use our product and the rearing process, then they could in turn console regional users on their trials and the upkeep necessary to have persistent yields. This is where Entomon has the potential to create jobs, too!

However, there are other ways to maintain correspondence as well. Nonetheless, this is an integral part in our products success and we are continuing to seek out the best way to educate and ensure our users success.

Our Mission

Team Entomon sees the opportunity to provide people with the resources to farm and consume insects in an efficient and inexpensive way. We utilize items that would otherwise be wasted, and turn them into a simple habitat for raising insects; an Entomon provides a source of much needed nutrition for its owners or their livestock --and perhaps even a source of income.

Our Background

We're veterans in this competition. We competed last year and have been working hard ever since. After the competition ended, we began pitching our idea everywhere and to anyone who would listen. We would introduce the challenge of TFF and then describe our solution to the problem... and people loved it (granted they thought we were a *little strange). Whether it was our professors at school, our friends' parents, coworkers, or a fellow student at the bus stop--it didn't matter; we wanted to hear as many opinions as possible. Their feedback encouraged us to keep developing and editing our idea. And so we did... over and over and over again. This process finally brought us to where we are now--though we understand that we still have much further to go. Our current team is awesome. We all have a different scholastic focus, and that enables us to thrive in so many unexpected ways. Team Entomon has big dreams--but we understand that big change starts small. We also understand that no single solution can change the pandemic problem of hunger--but our idea can undoubtedly help and this is what we will prove to you.

From Producer to User / Published January 10, 2016 by Landry Tucker

From Producer to User

This is a simplified flow chart of our short term business model that resembles the flow of an Entomon: starting with raw material to final product and user.

*NGO stands for non-governmental organizations.

Short Term Business Plan / Published January 6, 2016 by Sloane Ansell

Short Term Business Plan

There are many initiatives to assist farmers in Latin America to diversify their incomes. Neighboring farmers commonly plant the same crops as each other. When they sell their yields, markets become saturated thus profits drop significantly.

When we approached the Norman Borlaug Institute with our idea during the semester, they saw Entomon as a potential catalyst for this effort.

The purpose of our endeavors in Latin/South America is to establish Entomon's credibility. We understand that a new product cannot be successfully employed in other nations (or made available to consumers in markets) without a real-world set of trial and errors. Therefor, we are utilizing our immediate resources to create a financially viable pilot-program to test our product before expanding to other regions and cultures.

Our goals will be to understand the problems of our first-adopters, further develop the product and methods to reflect their needs, improve the barrel distribution and conversion process, and strengthen our supply-chain ties for the future.

Long Term Business Plan / Published January 5, 2016 by Sloane Ansell

Long Term Business Plan

During our initial launch in Latin America, we will undoubtedly face opportunities and matters that we have yet to encounter--and these insights will assist in our approach towards international affairs.

This "Long Term" canvas is how we currently foresee the differences in our two business models. It considers multiple factors that will be better understood as we continue to move forward.

Entomon's Potential In Aquaculture Feed / Published January 3, 2016 by Garrett Hayslip

Entomon's Potential In Aquaculture Feed

Fish farming is well established. It has been around for centuries and became increasingly popular when wild fish populations were no longer viewed as a sustainable source for growing demands. Over the past 40 years, aquaculture feed production has rapidly expanded in order to satisfy the appetites for fish in a variety of fish farms.

Dr. Albert G.J. Tacon, aquatic research director of Aquatic Farms Ltd. in Hawaii wrote, "If aquaculture is to play a major role in the food security of low income developing countries as a much needed and affordable source of high-quality animal protein, then it is essential that the farmed species be produced using low-cost sustainable farming methods." (http://www.fao.org/livestock/agap/frg/ECONF95/PDF/TACON.PDF). Much of the input cost of aquaculture lies in the expensive feed, "In order to maintain profitability, farm-made aquafeeds present a much cheaper option for farmers compared to commercial aquafeeds. In contrast to industrially produced aquafeeds, farm-made aquafeeds allow the small-scale farmer to tailor feed inputs to their own financial resources and requirements, and facilitate the use of locally available agricultural products which may otherwise have limited use within the community." (For example, crickets in a culture that may not practice entomophagy).

I began to wonder if I could feed the goldfish outside my house with the crickets that we raise. I took about two hundred 3 week-old crickets from my Entomon and placed them into the freezer (this is the most humane way to harvest crickets for consumption because they enter a dormant state that slows their metabolism). Then I baked them in the oven and ground the crickets to a flakey state that resembles store-bought fish feed. I placed my GoPro camera at the bottom of the pond, spread the cricket flakes, and watched the fish feast.

In western applications, where entomophagy is relatively scarce, insect farming is still applicable for feeding livestock. Aquafeed for carnivorous fish species is very dependent on fishmeal (processed fish) for dietary protein. In the last decade, demand for fishmeal has exceeded supply causing prices to increase dramatically. As a result, the use of essential, protein-rich fishmeal has become a ingredient in aquafeed. Crickets could be supplemented as a valuable protein alternative.

https://youtu.be/bNVEv9kPoBY?t=16m6s

The video link above contains a lot of great information from the World Nutrition Forum that discusses the economical and environmental challenges faced by the aquaculture industry. The whole talk is insightful, but the video will begin at 16:06 to jump into pertinent information on the topic. Go back to 10:16 if you have some extra time.

A Prime Example of Our Potential / Published January 3, 2016 by Landry Tucker

A Prime Example of Our Potential

https://youtu.be/Acxbx-DUkL4?t=10m15s

Watch the first three minutes of this video from where it begins (it's quite entertaining).

In Thailand, children scavenge the areas around their homes for crickets after a day at school. The following day, the children bring their previously caught crickets to be combined with other children's collections, and this constitutes their daily lunch. Essentially, these children feed themselves during school by picking insects from fields the day prior.

Entomon has tremendous potential in situations like this. We have reliable material that can be easily managed and stored, even by young children. With multiple Entomons (and some supervision), these children could be taught methods to farm massive amounts of crickets for their classmates and their lunches. The information pertinent to raising crickets could be integrated in an approach to teach/learn fundamental ideas in biology--and could thus improve their skills in rearing the crickets. Children would in turn discuss these processes with their parents and could engage them in cricket farming as well.

Here is another important point we haven't emphasized quite enough:

An Entomon will always be coupled with education.

And education for successfully raising and breeding crickets is not very difficult. A cricket's life cycle is short and the Entomon upkeep is not laborious. Naturally, crickets raise themselves. Being a self-taught cricket farmer is certainly a challenge, as I have had a few failures in my last five months of raising crickets. However, these factors were controlled and improved--and we now have successful yields with our product.

We are currently working to develop instructional material to integrate with methods of correctly raising crickets through an Entomon... so that even school children can do it.

In the blog about our Texas A&M challenge, Garrett mentions "...yes, that's right, other students at A&M are farming crickets, too." And this is true. We have two friends who live together that manage their own Entomon with over two thousand crickets. We usually make a weekly trip to their garage. We check their temperature and humidity levels, thoroughly learn about any problems they have, assist with the upkeep, and generally maintain the lives of the crickets. Since our beta users are close to us, monitoring their progress isn't difficult--but what about people who are using our product in other countries? In our current position, questions like this aren't the easiest to answer. If Entomon employees, NGOs, or members from other aid-organizations were first taught to use our product and the rearing process, then they could in turn console regional users on their trials and the upkeep necessary to have persistent yields. This is where Entomon has the potential to create jobs, too!

However, there are other ways to maintain correspondence as well. Nonetheless, this is an integral part in our products success and we are continuing to seek out the best way to educate and ensure our users success.

Our Team

Our Mission

Team Entomon sees the opportunity to provide people with the resources to farm and consume insects in an efficient and inexpensive way. We utilize items that would otherwise ...Read More

Our Background

We're veterans in this competition. We competed last year and have been working hard ever since. After the competition ended, we began pitching our idea everywhere and to ...Read More

The information contained here represents student project ideas developed as the result of brainstorming activities during Round 1 of the TFF Challenge. It does not represent any final business plans or commercial products.