3 FAST QUESTIONS FOR THE SYNGJA FOUNDERS

3 FAST QUESTIONS FOR THE SYNGJA FOUNDERS

How did it all start?
Philip Price (CMO): About 1.5 year ago I was brainstorming with a close friend of mine about just starting some kind of green business. Somehow doing that evening (it suffices to say, that we were under the influence of an undisclosed amount of alcohol) the idea of edible insects came up. It stuck in our minds. A few months later we met Jakob at an insect networking event in Copenhagen (there were 5 participants), and we learned his fascinating story about starting his own urban cricket farm (in a basement in Nordvest). It didn’t take long from there before we joined forces and came up with the concept about insect enriched beverages. We believed (and obviously still do) that there exists a gap in the market for this product type; a market which expands with exponential growth rates these years.

What makes it so exciting?

Jakob Rukov (CTO): There is a never a neutral response when you tell people that there is a cricket in their beverage shot. Either you get an extremely positive response, or you get the extreme opposite. But one thing is for sure: people never just shrug their shoulders and walk off. Edible insects arouses a natural interest, because it is so new and culturally foreign (to us in the Western hemisphere).

We believe in the transformative power of edible insects as a driver for a better, more sustainable world – whether that being food safety for the soon-to-be 9 billion people in the world (estimates for 2050), the impending climate degradation, or general cultural openness and inclusion. Already, 2 billion people in the world eat edible insects on a daily basis. It is only a trick of the mind, that hinders all of us from doing the same. The potential to change this – to inaugurate a food revolution, so to speak – is what makes it so exciting!

What is the concept behind Syngja?

Philip Price: Syngja’s concept is to promote a new consciousness on edible insects as a healthy, sustainable and tasty food. Basically, there are no rational arguments against the consumption of insects; they are extremely healthy, extremely sustainable, and they are very tasty too – in fact, crickets convey a distinct, lingering sense of umami (due to their high protein content).

Obviously, though, there are some major cultural roadblocks that deter consumers from eating insects. The Syngja vision is to break down these barriers by introducing a gateway drug to a world of new food solutions: in our case, tasty and familiar-looking shots and mixers (for instance to use in cocktails). In this way, we can provide the majority of consumers with an extremely positive (and to many of them, surprising) first-time experience of eating insects. It is a super empowering force when people drink our shots (in some cases without realizing it contains crickets), which equivalents eating 10 whole crickets – something they would never do on its own.

We know the first insect can be difficult. We also know the second one is easy. And we make that choice easy. 

Meet the team behind Syngja at CBS Entrepreneurial Day!

MEET THE STARTUP: SYNGJA

MEET THE STARTUP: SYNGJA

Syngja is a brand new remake of Insekt KBH, a beverage manufacturer of cricket enriched drinks. The two co-founders, Jakob Rukov & Philip Price (ph.d. in molecular biology and a current CBS student, respectively), founded the company from the basis of a shared passion for sustainable food solutions, namely edible insects. The original company was founded precisely a year ago, and launched its first market prototype product, FEMTEN Fårekyllinger, in late February 2017 – an apple ginger shot containing the equivalent of fifteen crickets.

 

Shortly after, the product was distributed in a small cluster of Copenhagen specialty stores besides various online stores across the country and one outlet in Norway. On top of that, Insekt KBH was granted DKK500,000 from Innovation Fund Denmark to continue product development and technical improvements. To the founders, this was a clear sign that large stakeholders saw significant commercial potential in the concept value of insect-enriched beverages. Similarly, this grant could be witnessed as an extension of contemporary society’s broader focus on edible insects as a valuable resource for the present and future.

However, a failed Kickstarter launch in May 2017 brought expectations down to earth and forced the company to reassess its value proposition. One thing was to attract the initial attention of investors and funding institutes; but if consumers did not appreciate or understand the product, Insekt KBH’s attractiveness would not last for long.

Commencing the work in June, Insekt KBH therefore undertook the daunting task to rebrand and restructure its entire company entity. Aiming to learn from their (many) mistakes, the strategic aim was to refocus dedication onto the core product – something which had drifted from their sights as they got caught in the (in their own eyes) overwhelming hype and media attention.

Today, less than 3 months after, Syngja is borne, carrying a new set of market products that are streamlined to accommodate modern mainstream consumers. The intense sprint has also seen the company move (and scale) production to automated facilities. And while it has been extremely hard work, the learning curve has been almost vertical linear. In the founders’ own eyes, it bears witness that the notion of ‘fast doing, fast failing’ can be highly constructive as long as you do ‘fast learning’ too.

Jakob and Philip are delighted to share and discuss their own experiences on this topic – besides talking much more on the Syngja products and vision – at CBS Entrepreneurial Day 2017.