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In case you missed it, meat-free protein is having a moment. Look at meatless burger company Beyond Meat: Its stock has climbed rapidly in recent weeks, especially following its first earnings report last Thursday. The company's shares were first priced on May 1 at $25 apiece. They closed on Monday at $168.10 per share.

The entire alternative protein industry is booming, thanks to companies like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and pea-milk startup Ripple. Impossible Foods founder and CEO told Business Insider last month, "We know enough now to make pretty much the gamut of meat flavors." That follows January, when Ripple co-founders Adam Lowry and Neil Renninger appeared on the Inc. Uncensored podcast and discussed their ability to create Ripple's signature protein from any vegetable source--not just peas.

Plenty of food startups are finding success pursuing the future of protein beyond meat and dairy. Now, some founders are taking that same mission in a new direction. Case in point: cricket protein-based food startup Chippin, which my colleague Leigh Buchanan writes about today. Chippin co-founder Haley Russell couldn't get her friends and family to eat her cricket-heavy baked goods, but her 8-year-old goldendoodle Wren loved them.

Wren, it should be noted, is apparently a picky eater--making this a huge accomplishment. Russell pivoted, and a pet-food company was born. Since launching its dog treats in November, Chippin has sold several thousands of units across major cities like Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

That's a sign of a smart strategy:

  1. Choose a red-hot market.

  2. Identify an underserved market within it.

  3. Stake your claim.

Easier said than done, of course. You might have better odds of falling into those opportunities accidentally--much like Chippin--than planning them intentionally. Either way, once you've found them, hold onto them fiercely. Take inspiration from Wren and her new snacks: Don't ever let them go.

Published on: Jun 11, 2019