It all started with cricket protein.
Years ago, founders Gabi Lewis and Greg Sewitz went from college roommates at Brown University to building their first startup: Exo Protein, which created a line of protein bars featuring cricket protein. Now, after selling Exo, the duo has created a second, sweeter venture: Magic Spoon, a startup that is “reimagining cereal.”
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“With [crickets] we tried to do a lot,” said Sewitz via a telephone interview on Wednesday, “there was neither inherent demand nor supply, so we built the supply chain from the ground up. In the United States, crickets have never really been farmed for human consumption.”
He added: “It was perhaps a lot more complicated than [a business] needed to be. So we wanted to find a business in a market that allowed us to launch our next company at scale.” Cereal became a frontrunner.
New York-based Magic Spoon, which creates a high protein, no sugar (low-carb) alternative to your classic favorite cereals, just raised $5.5 million in a seed round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Other investors include Joseph Zwillinger, the co-founder of Allbirds, Jeff Raider, the co-founder of Harry’s, and Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, the co-founders of Warby Parker.
Lewis opts for the cocoa-flavored offering and Sewitz the fruity flavor cereal. It’s a spectrum. (Magic Spoon sells four different cereal varieties today, according to its website.)
The company hopes to carve out a spot in the center of the breakfast cereal spectrum. “You have the very bright and colorful Saturday morning style cereals that are full of sugar, but as you keep walking down the aisles slowly transition towards these sort of healthier cereals,’ said Sewitz. Enter organic and gluten-free options, packaged in a “white box with a farmer on the back.”
“Their positions are sort of just like classic Kashi style,” he added. So Magic Spoon wants to land somewhere in the middle: healthier than sugary cereals by a large margin, but not much that people feel like they “compromise on the feeling of eating cereal.”
Lewis mentioned that when first brainstorming the startup, some warned that cereal was a dying category. There are other products that land far higher on the breakfast hierarchy. But to their surprise, users have started eating Magic Spoon cereal for not just breakfast, but for snacks and dessert, too. Sewitz thinks it’s the protein – which might just be a nod to the duo’s first venture, a lesson that comes from cricket protein after all.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.