Belgrade cricket company a startup to watch


A recently published study from the Montana High Tech Business Alliance reports revenue in the state's high tech industry is reaching new heights.

Cowboy Cricket Farms in Belgrade is one company reaping the benefits. The company's specialty is farming edible crickets.

"We use 2,060 times less water, 14 times less feed, produce 40 times less methane, all of that using 1 percent of the comparable land mass. You get the same amount of protein but twice the iron," marketing director and co-founder James Rolins said.

Business is growing as quickly as the crickets are reproducing. When Rolins and his wife started the company a year ago they had five bins of crickets. Today they have the equivalent of about 100 bins. Those bins hold 3 million crickets. Their products can be found across the country even reaching as far as Arkansas.

The company isn't alone, the Montana High Tech Business Alliance reports revenue in the tech industry in Montana hit a record $1.7 billion in 2018. It also said the high tech industry is growing nine times faster than any other sector in the state. The organization just named Cowboy Cricket Farms as a startup to watch for in 2018.

"We did not consider ourselves a tech company until really a few months ago when we found out that, wow, there’s this huge problem that we’re having that, as it turns out, every other cricket farm is having," Rolins said.

Right now Rolins and his team monitor conditions in each cricket bin by hand.

"These new bins they do all that for you. We actually have real-time monitors with the ability to change the heat, humidity, automate the feed and water system for every single bin individually," he said.

It will increase efficiency, precision and data tracking. The technology could be sold to other cricket farmers as well.

While Cowboy Cricket Farms is the only company of its kind in Montana now, Rolins said that will change. He is mentoring aspiring cricket farmers in the state.

"We're also mentoring cricket farmers in Canada and elsewhere in the U.S., so the industry is growing more than 40 percent year after year," Rolins said.

It's growth that Rolins says gets easier as more people turn to crickets for their next meal.

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