With Earth’s population skyrocketing toward 9.2 billion, the world has 33 years to significantly increase food production to maintain current food consumption trends. Entrepreneurs Robert Arenas and Nolan Fogleman believe they have the answer.
A life-long Texan, Robert Arenas has had an entrepreneurial spirit since he was a boy. Yet it wasn’t until his final semester that Arenas realized that he was not pursuing a life that maximized his full potential. That all changed this past November when Arenas started his company, Gyminie’s, that makes cricket-based protein flour.
“I had to tap into my self-awareness,” Arenas said. “I didn’t want to just make everyone else happy. I didn’t want that 9-to-5 job.”
After graduating in August 2015 from College of the Mainland with a degree in process technology, Arenas spent a year applying and interviewing for jobs in the oil and gas industry. However, on a late night in November 2016, a bout of YouTube surfing changed his life.
“I came across this TED video talking about how the future of food and protein is crickets,” Arenas said. “They said 80 percent of the world was already eating this. (That’s when) it came to me.”
Arenas was inspired to start producing a sustainable cricket-based protein flour that could replace traditional bleached flour in cooking. Crickets have all nine essential amino acids humans need to survive.
After realizing the potential benefits of a cricket-based diet, Arenas launched Gyminie’s. He has been organizing tasting booths in LA Fitness locations ever since.
With the help of two local chefs, Arenas crafted the Gyminie’s original recipe.
“We went through hundreds of dollars in prototypes,” Arenas said. “Crickets taste nutty, so the key was balancing flavor with nutrition.”
To get things off the ground, Arenas attended an event hosted by the University of Texas and Austin’s Capital Factory, “3 Day Startup,” a weekend-long event that connected students with professional mentors and venture capitalists. Because he was living in Houston at the time, Arenas would make the six-hour round-trip drives to Austin each day.
During the weekend, Arenas met his business partner, UT business sophomore Nolan Fogleman. Fogleman said he fell in love with the sustainable future cricket flour could offer.
“I was attracted to Gyminie’s because I saw the potential for the business and I believe in the product,” Fogleman said. “Once I had faith, I was eager to be on the team.”
Though some people might feel squeamish at the thought of cricket flour, others are open to the idea. People such as Austin bodybuilder Hunter Cameron are very open to using cricket-based protein in their food.
“Anytime you have something natural that is really good for you, people will eventually come around,” Cameron said.
This past week during a McCombs student startup event, Fogleman delivered a pitch to fellow students to build both public awareness and garner feedback from local entrepreneurs while Arenas stayed in New Jersey for the Fownders Accelerator Program.
“We want to challenge people’s own cultural perceptions,” Arenas said. “We want people to get out of their comfort zone. When I see the smile on their face, I love that. That goes to my root why I started Gyminie’s.”