One morning, a picture of a strawberry-banana smoothie caused quite a fuss. Caught slightly off-guard, only three quarters tall in casual glassware, it appeared modest but still charming with its natural pink hue. To the outside eye, it might have been just a regular smoothie… but it had something special inside and would come to inspire many. Within it: a finely ground powder made from roasted crickets.
Its photographer, by the name of Daniel, was known as somewhat of a health nut by his peers, including his famished banking colleagues who would frequently pillage his generously filled and carefully curated snack drawer. He didn’t post the picture of the smoothie while steepling his hands mumbling “excellent” in a moment of Mr. Burns-like sneakiness with plans to feed crickets to the world - rather he was simply sharing an experiment with his friends, voicing his enthusiasm for this remarkably nutritious and sustainable food. The smoothie became the object such fascination and curiosity that Daniel decided to take the experiment a step further and proceeded to demonstrate his lack of baking skills over the following months. His family and friends became the gracious recipients of various food items all made with this wonderfully exciting ingredient, their encouragement on display with the well-recognized chew-scowl-and-nod sequence. At one Christmas party, his organic gluten-free quinoa-cricket dark chocolate chip cookies (bordering on eye-rolly due to excess buzz words) caused somewhat of a stir among his large extended family, as word spread among the clan and willing guinea pigs presented themselves to the dessert table, generally leaving with a sense of accomplishment and occasionally with a smug look communicating a confident “no big deal”. The image of a lonely few crumbs remaining on the cookie platter*, deserted by their larger neighbours at an increasingly fast pace throughout the night, was to be the catalyst for much to come.
Enter Oldrich, a food industry veteran and entrepreneur from the Czech Republic, unlikely to have ever been referred to as shy in his lifetime. Having half-Czech origins, Daniel knew a name (and accent) from the motherland when he heard one, so that day at the gym the chance conversation between the two gentlemen began, at Oldrich’s delight, with having his background promptly and correctly picked up on, a rare occurrence. It was not long after that crickets entered the conversation, of course. Daniel told Oldrich a well-known story within his family of a Czech cousin visiting Canada in 90s being utterly disgusted by the sight of cooked lobsters on the dinner table one evening, with their large insect-like appearance - lobsters seldom on the menu in the land-locked country. He used the story to point out the subjectivity of perceptions, especially as they relate to food, and present his case for popularizing crickets within the Western diet. By then, Daniel had moved along with Crickstart, which was still in an infantile stage (the name coined by Daniel’s father Michael over a late night beverage of the brewed kind). It turns out Oldrich would prove to be a missing piece of the puzzle, injecting much-needed doses of wisdom over the following months, before officially joining the cause. The hard work, trial and error, and formative steps progressed as a vision for Crickstart started to come into focus (with perhaps still a tad of fog on the lense of how-to’s).
Even the noblest of causes or finest products have little chances of succeeding in this modern age without a master propagandist capable of digital wizardry. Daniel knew just the person for the job - a new friend and fine fellow by the name of Michael, an e-commerce virtuoso who had offered pointed advice on all matters marketing, systems and sales, sprinkled with product feedback as he regularly put dents in Crickstart test batches over the months leading up to the fateful discussion. Michael made the leap from the corporate world and the Crickstart co-founder team was complete, as humble and full of potential as the smoothie that started it all.
*Disclaimer: this sentence is for poetic purposes, as in reality there were a few cookies left, but the enormity of the batch legitimizes the hyperbole.
Health nut without being a party pooper (he would claim), previously worked in banking on large financings including for renewable power projects, always interested in the details, known to be a bit of an eagle-eyed recycling and composting enforcement officer among his family and friends, can drive a golf ball very far (into the woods), and frequently voices random theories about random things (most recently at the time of writing, that a mediocre song can become a lot better if you turn it up really loud...). Daniel oversees Crickstart as a whole and must be frequently reminded by his partners not to eat all of the company’s products.Oldrich Blaha, Co-Founder & COO
Industry vet from the Czech Republic who oversaw fresh food sales in 700-odd points of sale across five European markets before crossing the pond, classic car and beer enthusiast, process-obsessed (with the gratefulness of his partners hidden by moderate eye rolling), sail boat captain longing to hit the open waters, and hockey dad in training. At Crickstart, Oldrich oversees operations, including product, and remains a staunch defender of inventory in the face of the other founders’ insatiable hunger for crickets.Michael Badea, Co-Founder & CMO
Aficionado of all the latest things tech (Alexa, Google, Nest and various drones fight for control of his apartment), he followed a path worthy of an unconventionalist as a civil engineer hailing from the fashion and supply chain management industries, chairs several fundraising initiatives for research into blood cancers on his free time, and loves delicious food and all things Nintendo (boasting inhuman Mario Kart skills). Michael oversees marketing and tech at Crickstart where he rarely misses the opportunity to relate a situation to Star Wars (“our failure is now complete" frequently used to describe our daily activities).Melanie Badea, Head of Graphic Design
Artist at heart with a knack for design work ranging from infographics to fashion prints, holder of a B.Sc., passionate about nature and completely fascinated by all living and extinct creatures, can easily be distracted by bird calls and songs. Melanie is the graphic designer at Crickstart who loves to create and bring ideas to life.
Difficult to avoid bad snacks.
Lack of key nutrients.
Health and immune system under pressure.
Feeling crummy and low energy.
Ridiculously nutrient-dense, plant-based protein bars and powders, boosted with :
To help maintain healthy energy levels thanks to its B-vitamins, iron, magnesium and iodine
To strengthen the immune system with its beta-glucan polysaccharides.
To maintain adequate levels of vitamin B12 and essential amino acids, just like meat.
We asked ourselves: if our mission is to help people stay focused, healthy, and feeling good through their hectic workweek, why stop at food?
So we launched Out on the Landish.
We get teams out of their offices on Wednesday afternoons for fun physical activities outdoors. Everything, including the protein bars, is on us!
We’re now taking company names in Montreal and Vancouver—if your team would like to join, contact us.
We source nutrient-dense, sustainable ingredients and avoid destructive ones like palm oil.
Each time you place an order we plant a tree in Canada, in partnership with OneTreePlanted.
We partnered with TerraCycle to turn our used bar wrappers into park benches.
It’s inspired by the word outlandish, which originally meant “from a foreign land”and now describes something unfamiliar or strange. We just removed the “out” to mean familiar or not strange.
This is how we feel about eating foods like insects, microalgae and functional mushrooms. After all, they’ve been a part of our ecosystem for much longer than we humans. They even played an important role in our survival, evolution and history. To us, these ingredients and the products we make with them are exceptional, but perfectly landish.
We’re a Montreal company, and all of our products are made here. This city is a melting pot of cultures and it maintains a fierce openness to ideas and a commitment to questioning the status quo—a perfect place to innovate on food.
You’ll also often find us in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver visiting friends and fam, and promoting our brand, one way or another.