Montana Cricket Farm Aims to Raise $750,000 Through IPO

Kathy and James Rolin have always gone about things a bit different. From their left-field idea to grow and harvest crickets to their plan to eventually create a co-op network of local cricket farmers. So it came as no surprise when the Rolins on Thursday declared an initial public offering for their Belgrade-based company, Cowboy Cricket Farms.

Through the IPO, set at $750,000, the owners hope to raise money in a slightly non-traditional way that will allow them to expand the operation — namely purchasing larger equipment for drying and processing the crickets.

The IPO gives any Montanan the chance to buy a slice of Cowboy Cricket Farms for a dollar a share. State Auditor Matt Rosendale was on hand at the company’s warehouse stroke farm Thursday to sample some barbecue-flavored dried crickets and sign the exemption allowing the Rolins to effectively operate as a publicly traded company within Montana.

“We’ve got an incredible amount of entrepreneurs here in Montana, and many of them just need resources,” Rosendale said. “(The exemption process) is an offering that the smaller businesses and smaller investors can use.”

Rosendale said his office is set to kick off a tour around the state to promote similar offerings for businesses.

Founded in early 2017 by the husband and wife duo, Cowboy Cricket Farms has since expanded into a second warehouse and is on track to produce 20 million crickets by the end of the year.

The majority of the insects, which are grown in plastic bins from egg to adult in roughly two months, are milled into powder that can be combined with flour or into smoothies. The Rolins also sell cookies, suckers and the dried crickets that Rosendale sampled, as well as frass — essentially insect manure.

But the long-term plan, the Rolins said, is to develop and build custom cricket growing containers that monitor things like heat and humidity, streamlining the process for prospective local cricket farmers who could raise the insects and sell them for processing at the Belgrade facility.

“We’re going to be approaching a billion dollar industry in the next decade, if not sooner,” said James Rolin.

Roughly 80 percent of countries in the world practice entomophagy (the consumption of insects), according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, which describes bugs as a potential solution to food security and an alternative to the large carbon footprint of traditional ranching practices.

The IPO will last a year, or until Cowboy Cricket Farms raises $750,000. The company is also looking into a Kickstarter campaign to help fund its research into a “super cricket” with elevated levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, James Rolin said.

“The validation of the state means a lot to us,” Rolin said. “Everyone has been so supportive. It’s amazing.”

Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle

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