Chapul’s Director, Pat Crowley, on Swimming, Crickets & Sharks


How do you turn crickets into a delicious snack deemed edible by Americans? Can a competitive sport background help you break new culinary ground, turn a profit, or beat the competition on ABC’s Shark Tank?

I was curious, so I asked a few questions of Pat Crowley, Director & co-founder of Chapul, the only US company to have a cricket-based food product for sale.

You were a collegiate swimmer – did this experience help you on Shark Tank?
I think swimming the Southend Rowing Club’s Alcatraz Race twice with my cousin Kelly probably helped for sure. [editor’s note – True story, Pat is my cousin, and we did swim from Alcatraz back to San Francisco. Twice. There were zero actual shark encounters, and only one false alarm.]

But seriously, your athletic experience demonstrates that you can be successful under pressure. Has your background in elite competitive sport helped you as an entrepreneur?
Yes, definitely! Confidence is a big part of swimming. You have to always believe in yourself and your ability to get faster, especially come race time when everyone is watching and your nerves are operating on warp speed. Stepping into the Shark Tank was like stepping up onto the blocks at a big swim meet. I have to be confident in all of the hard work our team is putting in, and in our ability to continue to get faster and stronger as a company.

Are there any skills from surfing and river-guiding that also apply to managing a small company?
One of my partners is a whitewater rafting guide as well, and we use river analogies constantly. Managing a small company is definitely like running a river. You have to constantly analyze where currents and trends are, how you can get your boat into them, and when to paddle out of them!

As for surfing, we started this company in order to start an insect-based food industry. It was like paddling for a tiny ripple of a wave, thinking that we might, just might, be able to catch it. 2 years later, the idea is really gaining steam and actually forming a surfable industry.

I loved the paleo ad you recently came up with! Is it a concerted effort to craft ideas like that or do they just spontaneously bubble up?
I’ve just gotten into swimming on a masters team, and some ideas have definitely come while staring at the bottom of the pool.

Most importantly, what sort of drink should I put in my water bottle to go with the Thai Bar?
In all honesty, it’s hard to beat good ‘ol fashioned water.

Watch Pat compete on ABC’s Shark Tank this Friday March 21 (check your local listings for the time) & find out more about how you actually turn crickets into gourmet energy bars.

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