Montana State University

MSU 406 Labs venture receives grant to produce ‘super crickets’ for heart health

August 14, 2017 -- MSU News Service

An MSU 406 Labs venture, Cowboy Cricket Farms, received a state grant to produce ‘super crickets’ for heart health.

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BOZEMAN — A venture supported by Montana State University’s 406 Labs, Cowboy Cricket Farms, has received a $57,384 grant from the Montana Board of Research and Commercialization Technology, with matching funds from the company.

The grant will be used to develop and test a new proprietary process for selectively breeding a “super cricket” with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. The owners of Cowboy Cricket Farms, James and Kathleen Rolin, hope to augment the current fish oil market with a new product that produces higher contents and quality of these fatty acids with less impact on the environment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is responsible for 600,000 deaths and costs the U.S. about $207 billion per year. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for proper brain, heart and body function. Traditionally, consumers have had few options for increasing omega-3 intake, apart from grass-fed meat and oily fish, but according to the federal Food and Drug Administration, some fish can also have high levels of mercury or other contaminants.

"We are a family farm and we care about the health and nutrition of families in an affordable fashion.  We think that these ‘super crickets’ are the answer," said James Rolin, who, along with his wife, Kathleen, a disabled Coast Guard veteran and current MSU student, founded Cowboy Cricket Farms in November 2016.

As Montana’s first and only cricket farm, Cowboy Cricket Farms credits 406 Labs and the Blackstone LaunchPad for helping the business from concept to reality.

“They have given us not just business coaching and advice, but also a sounding board,” James Rolin said.  “We can bring ideas to them and they will give us honest feedback in a confidential and professional environment.” 

The Blackstone LaunchPad at MSU, housed under the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, is an entrepreneur resource for students, alumni and faculty across the university and community that offers coaching, ideation and venture creation support. Its business accelerator program, 406 Labs, provides focused resources to help high-growth potential ventures, assisting companies with things related to launching a business, including prototype creation, go-to-market strategy, business development pipeline creation, sales training, fundraising strategy and hiring. An network of Montana-based mentors assists companies that are selected to participate in the program.

“Without their support we never would have won the awards that we did, never would have had the gumption to go after government grants, never would have made some of the contacts that have made such a huge difference in our business,” Kathleen Rolin said.

“We owe a lot to the excellent group at Blackstone LaunchPad and are happy to have them on our side,” she added.

For more information about this venture, see https://cowboycrickets.com.

Contact: James Rolin, 562-208-5604, james@cowboycrickets.com or Trevor Huffmaster, 406-994-4383, trevor@msulaunchpad.org.