The entrepreneurial bug

The entrepreneurial bug

London start-up Eat Grub is looking to introduce edible insects to the British palette through its range of protein filled, healthy snacks and cereal bars.

Neil Whippey and Shami Radia launched Eat Grub back in 2014 in a bid to make edible insects ‘the new sushi.’

The duo came up with the idea after a couple of drinks to celebrate Neil’s 30th birthday led to them discussing Shami’s recent work trip to Africa where he found himself eating edible insects.

After a few drinks, and plenty of discussion, the duo identified a gap in the market for edible insects and the lack of companies operating in the sector in the UK, and Eat Grub was born.

Shami told BQ: “I used to work for WaterAid and one of my work trips took me to Malawi where I tried insects (fried termites) for the first time.

“I genuinely thought they were delicious – especially paired with the local beer. After some research on my return, I found out insects were extremely nutritious as well as sustainable to farm. It just made sense.

“Neil’s angle was slightly different; as a Chron’s sufferer, he needs to ensure he maintains a nutritious and balanced diet and insects fit the profile.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge, but an exciting one. We had a look at how sushi was once seen as unacceptable to the UK public where now it is a high street institution; we felt there is no reason why insects can’t follow a similar journey.

“We didn’t have experience in running and starting a business, but my background is in marketing – and selling insects to the UK public is the ultimate marketing challenge!”

After less than two years in business the duo have already shipped orders across Europe courtesy of their online store and have secured deals with a number of leading healthy eating retailers.

Eat Grub Bars

Shami added: “As well as all of our products being stocked online at eatgrub.co.uk, our bars can also be bought from Planet Organic supermarkets, select Budgens’ stores, many coffee shops and numerous independent retailers.

“We will also be stocked with Ocado later in the year and we are already in discussion with a well-known national supermarket.”

And the company has further plans for growing its presence outside of the UK, as it continues to see demand from across Europe grow.

“The UK market is currently taking up most of our energy, but we’re growing from strength-to-strength, so exporting to Europe is part of our three year strategy,” said Shami.

“We currently ship to Europe via our website and the countries that seem to be enjoying them the most are the Scandinavian ones and Italy – which was a surprise as I always thought they were quite traditional when it came to their food. It’s always nice to be proved wrong!”

Speaking about where he sees the company in five years time, he said: “Insects are a new ingredient to the UK and western palate.

“There are so many different opportunities we can explore – but ultimately in five years’ time we want insects to be accepted and enjoyed for the tasty, nutritious and sustainable food source they are.”

In order to help push their ambitious expansion plans, the duo are set to look at seed funding as a potential avenue to raise capital to drive the company’s growth.

Shami concluded: “We self-funded the business to start off but we are now seeking our first round of seed funding to help us grow the brand.

“We’ve had a lot of support and advice, for example being part of KPMG’s mentorship programme. This is crucial for start-ups – you should never be afraid to ask for help from someone who has been already been through it all.”