Ep 36 Alba Rodriguez, Gricha: Using insects to solve food insecurity and improve nutrition

Alba Rodriguez is on a mission to solve hunger and malnutrition in Mexico. Alba is the founder and CEO of Gricha, a company that sources crickets as the main ingredient in a high-quality, sustainable protein powder.

On this episode, I sat down with Alba to talk about how she came up with the idea to feed people crickets, how she got started as an entrepreneur and what it’s like building a business from the ground up. Her story will inspire you, whether you are launching your own startup or looking for a creative way to solve a problem. Thanks for listening!

Alba’s quest for the perfect cricket cookie

Alba had no idea that she would be the founder of a successful startup in Guadalajara, or that she would be promoting eating crickets for a living. While she was studying nutrition at university, Alba’s eyes were opened to the fact that animal-based protein was not a long-term viable option. With this in mind, she set out to find an alternative food source. As it turns out, crickets were the solution.

When processed into a powder, crickets contain twice the protein of chicken or beef. Alba tested over 500 cookie recipes before she found one that tasted great and could be easily recreated. Once she had the formula, she took to Facebook to sell the idea, even before she had her own line of products.

Problems are often an opportunity waiting to be discovered

Like many entrepreneurs, Alba looked at a problem that did not have a clear solution and saw an opportunity to affect change and better the lives of people around her. Alba sets a great example for future entrepreneurs, in that if you are willing to create a high-quality product that solves a problem, there is a high likelihood you will be able to generate sales. Convincing her family and friends that crickets were a viable food source was not without its challenges, but her end goal was clear and she has been able to get her business off the ground as a result.

Starting a business is hard, no matter where you are

A steady paycheck from an established company might be easier, but for Alba and many other entrepreneurs, the challenges of solving a problem or launching a new product far outweigh the security of a “regular” job. I asked Alba to share what it’s like to be a female founder in Mexico, as well as some of the challenges she faced with Gricha. Besides learning how to cook, she also had to convince business associates that she was in the game long-term. Many businessmen in that region assume that female founders are only in business as a transition to having a family, so long-term planning is not always considered. Alba said she drew inspiration from her parents, both of whom pursued higher education then started companies of their own.

As an entrepreneur, not knowing what to do next may be the scariest part

As an entrepreneur, you may not always know what your next move is, or the right strategy for growth. Alba says sometimes you don’t have a clear idea what to do next, but you don’t have the time to delay, so you have to step out and do your best, regardless of the outcome. The products you are producing are important, but they are not the only things to consider. Alba was open about the fact that she doesn’t know much about hiring new employees, sourcing product manufacturing, and product distribution at this stage, but she is learning them because that is what her company will need.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:15] Nathan introduces Alba Rodriguez
  • [4:00] Have you ever wondered what cricket protein tastes like?
  • [7:00] Alba’s background in research and her start as an entrepreneur.
  • [13:15] Trust the process, even if it takes you 500 attempts
  • [20:30] What happens when you can’t supply the the market demand for your product?
  • [24:15] What’s it like living in Guadalajara
  • [25:45] Starting a business is hard, no matter where you are
  • [27:00] What’s it like being a female founder in Mexico?
  • [29:45] The best advice Alba has received
  • [35:15] What advice would she give her younger self?
  • [40:00] Gricha is moving online
  • [41:00] Bonus material in Spanish

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