Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Kathy Rollins and I am the CEO of Cowboy Cricket Farms. I run a cricket farm & food company located in Belgrade, MT with the help of my husband James. I came up with the idea for my business in the Fall of 2016 while I was studying Sustainability and Nutrition at Montana State University. That same year MSU hosts an ‘Insects Bug Buffet.’ I initially expected to get grossed out, but I ended up falling in love with the concept of bugs for food. After several months of research, it became clear that edible insects were soon going to be a real industry in the USA. There were really just 2 problems: public acceptance and supply chain (not enough crickets). Cowboy Cricket Farms was founded to solve both.
What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?
Don’t hire your friends just because they’re your friends. This is a great way to lose friends. Make sure that as an employer your expectations are clear from the start and understood.
What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.
Surprisingly I quickly found out that farming crickets are harder than many would think. Initially, we killed tons of crickets, but over time learned intricacies of farming insects, and how to keep them alive. Our early failures allowed us to develop more efficient farming practices. We are now working with a tech firm to design special technology to monitor humidity and other environmental factors.
Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?
In the next ten years, I see companies like Kraft investing in bug products and possibly acquiring smaller companies in the industry.
What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Being told to talk to investors. We have spent months trying to work with VC’s and have found them hard to work with. We are 100% self-funded and have won multiple business competitions. I am addicted to the highs & lows of being a business owner and wouldn’t want to have it any other way
In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?
We get requests for donations a lot and have learned to say ‘yes’ more often to companies that align with our values.
What is the one book you recommend most often and why?
Built to Sell by John Warrillow.
The lessons the character learns in this story can be applied to anyone who owns a business.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
If you are going to fail, fail fast. Then pick yourself up and work harder. Ignore that naysayer and learn who is reliable and who you can trust.
What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?
“Just keep swimming!” -Dory