Pat Crowley introduced his venture Chapul on Season 5 episode 21 of ABC’s ‘Shark Tank.’ Chapul produces cricket-based flour, which, apart from being quite nutritious, also contributes towards sustaining Earth’s water supply. Such an interesting yet unorthodox product warranted a second look, and here’s what we found out!
Chapul: Who Are They and What Do They Do?
The brain behind Chapul, Pat Crowley, completed his Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Psychology from Claremont McKenna College before going on to earn an MS in Watershed Hydrology from the University of Arizona. Moreover, he has an illustrious career path and has worked as a Surf Guide and a Water Resource Specialist. After finishing his Master’s program, Pat found employment as a field instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School and became a guide for activities like whitewater kayaking, rafting, and canoeing, among others.
While working with the National Outdoor Leadership School, Pat became increasingly aware of the nutritious value of crickets and began experimenting with insect protein. He even learned that since agriculture uses a massive amount of Earth’s water supply, switching one’s diet from plant-based to insect-based protein can help save water. As a direct result of his research, Pat established Chapul in 2012 and has been running it successfully to this very day.
After establishing Chapul, Pat went on to become a successful TEDx speaker and has served on the boards of organizations like Wasatch Community Gardens and the Center for Environmental Sustainability through Insect Farming (CEIF). In his pitch at ‘Shark Tank,’ Pat explained that insects convert their intake into protein ten times more efficiently than most other animals. Hence, they are a better source of nutrition than other livestock and are considered to be a delicacy in some parts of the world.
However, Pat was quite disappointed to see how the western world was missing out on such an essential and readily available superfood. So, he set up Chapul and began selling energy bars made primarily from cricket-based flour. These bars come in different flavors to suit every palette.
Where Is Chapul Now?
Although Pat raised around $16,000 in a successful Kickstarter campaign as capital for his business, Chapul did not gain much traction initially. While people were hesitant about switching to insect-based protein from the already tried and tested options, the whole unorthodox nature of consuming bugs did not sit well with many consumers. However, Pat did not give up hope and kept campaigning for the cause he believed in. He also used Sushi as an example and explained how Americans did not eat raw fish before Sushi brought about a welcome change.
Ultimately, Chapul was able to land partnership deals with natural food stores, bike shops, gyms, and fitness centers which slowly increased its popularity. Besides, once people tried the product themselves, they became more accepting of the idea, giving Pat’s business the exposure he worked so hard for. Chapul’s time in ‘Shark Tank’ proved quite profitable as Pat signed a deal with Mark Cuban and got $50,000 in exchange for 15% equity.
Subsequently, Chapul found space on the shelves of many retail outlets, with Sprouts Farmers Market becoming the first major retail store to stock the products. Unfortunately, in 2019, Chapul had to stop selling energy bars as their co-packer went out of business. But Pat kept his company alive by selling cricket-based flour. He claimed that by 2022, he had made over several million dollars in lifetime sales.
Moreover, Pat raised enough investment to establish the Chapul Farms Insect Innovation & Research Center in Oregon as a means to boost his business and effectively recycle food waste. The company only deals in flour as of this moment, and thus, interested customers will find different flavors of Chapul cricket flour on Amazon as well as their official website. A 1 pound bag will set you back by $45. As Pat is putting an incredible amount of effort into research and development, we are sure that Chapul is destined for greater success in the future.