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Meet the startups in Area 31: Pupa Planet

Escrito el 15 Octubre 2014 por entrepreneurship en emprender

Pupa Planet: Insect Meal as a novel protein source for feed

Pupa2 Due to increasing global meat demand, rising prices and the environmental impact of today´s protein components in animal farming feeds (fish-meal and soybean meal), less price sensitive, more sustainable and highly nutritive new protein sources are needed.

Insect (Flies) meals have shown to comply with these requirements, by using organic recyclable sub-products and by developing fly-mass rearing technologies.

In this context, Pupa Planet is implementing and developing new technologies to produce a cost effective maggot (fly) meal, for fishmeal and soymeal replacement in aquafeeds. The product will be developed in a fly mass rearing facility in Southern Spain.

Quentin Werrie, founder of the company, telsl us more about this innovative project.

Where did you get the idea?

It’s my wife, Stephanie, who put a fly in my mind! The idea came while doing the IMBA in 2012, I was looking for a sustainable business idea when Stephanie read an article about insects as a solution to feed the planet.

I had always dreamed about setting up a company which could bring a significant impact for society and the environment, it appeared very clearly that the insects potential had been unexploited and that it could be a powerful change maker. Thanks to a friend, José Luis Ruiz de Munain who I met through the Net Impact Chapter of IE, I could explore the insects ecosystem in Thailand (supported by www.changefusion.org), and later meet with 3 highly experienced scientists in Spain (Félix Fontal, Leticia Martinez de Murguía & Delia Márquez González) who are now making part of the core team. The project truly accelerated and changed thanks to those latters. Indeed, they combine a high experience of Insects (Entomology) and Aquaculture expertise.

How does the business work?

Pupa planet will use flies to upcycle subproducts (feedstock), starting with vegetables from Horticulture sector (ex: Almeria has 1,7 Millions Tons vegetable sub products every year, as 25% of the horticulture production is simply trashed before reaching consumers). Through successive processes, larvae from flies will “bioconvert” the subproducts into highly nutritive proteins & oils (“Insects Meal”) for the Aquaculture, Poultry and pigs sector. Due to a more favourable EU legislative environment for insects a feed for Aquaculture, we will first target feed meals for the Aquafeed Industry (both a global and fast growing market).

What is the business model?Pupa

Revenues are generated through the sales (B2B) of our core product: “Insects Meal” to Aquafeed producers (those latters sell feed formulations to the Aquaculture farms). Our insects protein will be a component of the final feed formulation (and substitute to unsustainable and expensive Fishmeal). Next to protein meals, revenues can also be generated through sales of fertilizer (which is an output from the digestion of subproducts by larvae) and other chemical components (like Chitin), but this is a medium-long term objective.

What kinds of investors does the company have?

So far, the company counts on seed capital (FFF) and we received some subsidy for preliminary market research.

What is the stage of project now?

We are now looking for first rounds of Angel Investment to boost our R&D and develop first product prototypes.

What are the most excited about the project at the moment?

To see that we have identified the right strategy and that we are getting very positive feedback. We have contacted some feed companies who are open for trial of our products in the future. Also, we met authorities in Southern Spain who see insects as a powerful solution to solve the massive subproducts issue (i.e from horticulture). Last, it’s the satisfaction to see that insects are a new born industry worldwide (not only in Spain but on every continent), which could bring food security, and many jobs at the same time!

What are the most difficult of entrepreneurship

Accept the uncertainty and lack of visibility. You need to stay very patient to accept that your first idea can change perhaps 20 times before you start to have a coherent idea and product strategy. People around you don’t necessary understand this and feel embarrassed asking what you are doing after a while. In a sector like insects, where everything is so new, it’s even more true. Hopefully, our efforts of last 2 years are now becoming rewarded and recognized. Therefore we keep faith in the big potential of the project, which for sure will require a big load of efforts and hard work.

What have you learned from your experience as entrepreneurs?

  • To be extremely flexible and open minded: our story started with the idea of selling healthy protein bars in ThailanPupa3d, now we want to feed fish by rearing insects in Spain! You know where the story starts but don’t know where it can end, this is what makes it so exciting!
  • You cannot do everything yourself and you should for sure not do what your not good at: surround yourself with people with higher expertise in their respective fields
  • Transparent and frequent communication with the team is very important to keep the mood high and build a strong team spirit, which is critical. People want to see you are a strong team. As we learned during the MBA, better to have an A team, with a B idea than the opposite.

What new understanding since you started has had the most impact on your original plan?

  • We took the time to define our focus, which is very difficult especially in a new sector where applications are limitless like insects. Had we known from the beginning we would target Insects for feed, and for Aquaculture, we would have saved a couple of months. But this is part of any entrepreneurial path, I believe.

What advice would you like to give to potential entrepreneurs?

Don’t be tempted in the beginning to do everything at once, try to keep your focus on one idea/product. Later, you can always diversify. It happened to us to consider different products in the beginning while forgetting that we always wanted to do Feed from insects.

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