Hi! I’m Alex Drysdale, the founder of CRIK Nutrition. CRIK is a natural health food & supplement company that developed the world’s first protein powder made with crickets.
Our flagship product is our ready-to-mix protein powder using crickets as the #1 ingredient. Initially, I focused on customers who were like myself. They heard about the benefits of using crickets as a protein source and were curious to learn more or give it a try. Early adopters in the health & wellness space.
Our first launch was an Indiegogo campaign that met its goal within the first 24 hrs. We were on track to sell out of what was left from that first production run within 4 months after delivering all the crowdfunding orders and decided to reformulate based on initial customer feedback, developed the chocolate flavor (which became a customer favorite), and did some reformatting of the tub and servings size, as well as improved the brand and labeling.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
Growing up in a small town on the Canadian prairies in a family with a farming background, being an entrepreneur was really something I thought about besides admiring them from a distance.
Don’t worry about the future, worry about what is in front of you that can bring you the tiniest step closer to your goals.
I was brought up to just work hard. I enjoyed working and started working full time in grade 11. I would go straight to work from school work until midnight and work every single weekend for a local entrepreneur.
Used (and still can be) very shy. But it was in this first job where the owner really helped break me out of my shell. He also further instilled a hard-working mindset.
3 months into university I ran out of money and was miserable.
I went to the rigs to pay off debt and figure out the next steps. After only a few months I was the 2nd highest paid guy on the rigs because I worked hard, did what I was told, and learned quickly by focusing on learning how everything fit worked together.
While there I learned about an opportunity at the railway for jobs that were technical, outdoors, and high paying. I applied at both major railways and was accepted.
I ended up choosing the larger company because I had family there, they were bigger and paid more. Within 3 years I was a sort of electrical and communications technician.
My main personal goal growing up was always to buy and renovate a house myself.
At 20 I was able to buy a place. I did some basic cosmetic work and a random person drove up and offered me way more than I paid for it.
That led to flipping 3 houses and having multiple rentals by the time I was 23.
The focus was always on cash flow, and I needed my job to maintain the real estate, but I was getting increasingly bored and frustrated in my job.
I was having a sort of ¼ life crisis. Already attained my life’s goals, I was getting bored and didn’t know what to do next. That when I went online and hired a career counselor.
After a couple of sessions, everything was pointing to business. Either go back to school and work towards an MBA or become an entrepreneur.
The thought of school made me recoil, so it was at that moment I started looking into what it takes to be an entrepreneur… I really had no idea where to start, so I just started Googling.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
Really my journey started without me know it when I bought that first house.
Consciously it started the day the career counselor told me, that based on our sessions and test that entrepreneurship or an MBA was the best course for my personality and interests.
I just started to consider things in my mind, follow my interests, and take advantage of any opportunities to learn something new.
Shortly after, I came across a sort of personal development group.
Despite all odd, I was one of the 50 people selected by the well-known author to be part of this group.
It was here among 49 highly successful people, that I learned everyone is just a human. No one is really that special. You can choose to pursue whatever goal you want, and chances are you have the ability to achieve almost anything.
One of the members offered to mentor me in e-commerce since he had been doing that since the early days of the internet when he was in high school.
It took almost 2 years, but I sold all my properties and literally anything that didn’t fit in a backpack and moved to Europe to be mentored. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew this step got me one step closer to becoming an entrepreneur.
Here I started an eCommerce course in parallel with working at a desk across from my mentor. After my first sale, we got together and spent all night working on ideas that wouldn’t just make money, but that would make a difference. Something that would add value to the world.
We came up with food, water, and energy.
I was back home doing paperwork and creating an actual corporation when one morning I saw an article on FB about cricket protein. My first thought was that it was weird… but Tim Ferriss shared it and he is usually at the front of the wave for this kind of stuff.
I was sold after just 1 paragraph.
Why weren’t we already using insects as protein?! With all the benefits it just made sense. So I looked all over the internet for a company making a protein powder but it didn’t exist so I ordered up some ground-up crickets to make my own. This is when it hit me.
Holy crap. This is it. This is the company I will focus on.
It was a perfect mix of personal interests, the skills I had been learning, and something that could add huge value to the world through sustainability and nutrition.
I shut down every other project I had on the go and turned my focus towards CRIK 100% from that moment forward.
There have been a lot of bumps, bruises, and close calls along the way but having once read a quote along the lines of “My greatest successes always come 1 step beyond what I thought was an absolute failure.”
This and my personal interest in the industry has kept me going through the toughest times. By sticking to my values it has attracted the right customers and partners that has helped us sustain when many others have folded.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Due to some big changes coming at CRIK I can’t dive too deeply here.
Every tub of protein sold after our crowdfund was profitable.
Do your research, what will your materials, shipping, software, and everything else cost.
Google industry averages, make sure you’ve tried to poke holes in everything and leave some room for mistakes and that you won’t lose money when you launch.
We are currently just finishing up a reformulation for a re-launch since selling out of product in 2019. The plan is to focus intensely on the US where most of our customers exist and making the product even better based on our customer's feedback over the years.
In the beginning, I tried everything the blogs and conferences said that would increase my conversions by x% or give me a 1.5x roi on ad spend. But this almost sunk me.
I ended up focusing on customers and people that actually used and liked my product vs. just spending a ton of money and free products on “influencers”.
I looked at influencers that were customers, and influencers that I thought would actually love and use our products. Didn’t care about how many followers they had, but how engaged their followers were. What is their ratio of followers to likes, and how many legit comments do they get on their posts that aren’t bots.
Going this route I would see a 7x return on my ad spend… or normal people that signed up as ambassadors who’s friends would become some of my top long-term customers.
Focus on real people, doing real things. There are no shortcuts.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Start. Now …. Seriously!
You can learn about starting a business by reading, and school, but you will only really learn how to start and run a business by doing it. Whether you’re the one running it or you’re working around someone doing that.
Don’t use debt. Read the book “Profit First” and set up your finances exactly how he outlines.
Trust your gut. Listen and carefully consider advice, but at the end of your day only you know your exact situation and vision. I’ve lost A LOT of money that impacted me negatively for years because I took advice from someone that had a lot of experience working with startups, but had never actually started one.
Know your vision and values, and don’t sacrifice them.
If you sacrifice your values, and vision for something like money, you will now have created a job for yourself and when things get tough you might not have the grit to push through the defining set back that WILL happen. This is what separates success from failure.
Do what you say you’ll do.
People will screw you over. Point to the fine print. Straight up lie.
Don’t sink to their level. People who will build a sustainable business with truly unlimited potential are the ones that tell the truth, do what they say, and don’t screw people over.
Word gets around, and when you go out of your way to help people, they remember it… forever… especially when that person is in a weaker position than you. More than likely you are in that spot right now and have been.
Think about those who have gone out of your way to help you when they didn’t have to.
You will remember them forever. AND when someone does this for you, make sure you try out their advice and report back to them the results. Or if they give you a book to read or software to try, report back to them what learned, how you put it into practice, and how it turned out.
Following up to show that they didn’t waste their time helping you is the absolute best thanks you can give.
Stay healthy. This is soo important you really won’t know until you do it.
After literally ONLY 1 WEEK of exercise, you will have more energy and confidence.
It’s hard work, but has exponential returns… and the more you do it the more you want to.
This means exercise/sport, meditation, sleep, healthy diet.
And no fad diets… we all know what is healthy and what isn’t. Eat real whole foods, and keep it simple.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Keep things simple… don’t fool yourself to death.
No tool is going to save your company if no one will pay for what you’re selling
- Shopify - for ecommerce focused businesses
- Bold apps - amazing apps that fill the gaps in Shopify’s platform
- Squarespace, ucraft, wix - all good, easy to use website platforms
- Mailchimp (start here) - email marketing / management
Klaviyo (advanced ecomm)
- Sumo, Privy - email collection… you need to OWN your customer list
- Slack - team communications
- Trello - project management / crm / information and idea collection
- Google apps for business - email, domains, cloud storage, and more
- Dashlane - password management
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I believe mindset is more important than specific tactics, so most of the resources below are focused on developing the mindset you need to not only find success but get up from the inevitable failures that will cause most people to quit.
- Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill
- On the Shortness of Life - Seneca
- Awareness - Anthony De Mello
- A Man’s Search for Meaning - Viktor Frankl
- Profit First - Mike Michalowicz (this is essential for every human)
- MCEO Project (itunes, spotify, google)
It’s vulgar, simple, and 100% true… if you find yourself getting mad because he’s calling out behavior you do, just stop and think about it. Dig into why you’re reacting negatively.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
The biggest tips (especially for those just starting out) are really very very simple.
There is ABSOLUTELY NO NEED to get ahead of where your skills are at and overcomplicate things.
- Write down your goals, then make a plan for how to achieve them.
This step is utterly essential. Life’s Purpose Exercise (I’ll set up a website before you publish with this)
- Profitable sales cure literally everything
(prove your idea will make money before you spend it)
- Listen to, and carefully consider advice, but trust your gut
… and make sure the advice you consider is coming from someone that has already learned -from experience- what they are advising you on.
- Don’t get ahead of yourself.
Work on solving what problems are directly in front of you at that moment, one thing at a time.
- You already have the answers inside of you!
Don’t worry about the problems that are in the future… they don’t exist yet!
Every single person knows the very next steps should be.
You NEED to write down your goals… This gives you a point to aim for.
The path will never be straight and easy, but as long as you remind yourself of your goals DAILY, you will, at the very least, have an idea of what you should be working on next to get you one step closer to your goal.
We often create problems in our head about future issues that may not actually exist in reality. Don’t worry about the future, worry about what is in front of you that can bring you the tiniest step closer to your goals.
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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