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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

JD: All right, welcome Dr. Aaron Dossey to our Golden Venner Show.

Dr. Aaron Dossey: Nice to be here, thanks for having me.

JD: Absolutely! You’re tuning in from overseas, right?

Dr. Aaron Dossey: Actually, not much sea involved. I’m in Honduras.

JD: Oh, Honduras. Okay, so yeah, a long way away. I’m not much of a geography guy. Where exactly are we at in the world?

Dr. Aaron Dossey: Central America. Technically, you could drive here.

JD: Very good. I would love to get a brief background on All Things Bugs. Walk us through what the company is and then give us a quick overview of the invention. I have more questions for you afterward.

Dr. Aaron Dossey: Sure. All Things Bugs LLC is a biotech company in the sustainable food and agriculture space. I started it when I was unemployed back in 2011. I was applying for faculty jobs and grants to leverage a faculty position. I got a Gates Foundation grant, but I had to file an LLC to qualify for it. They wanted to fund it, but I wrote down “independent” as the affiliation. They said I needed to work somewhere, and I asked if I could work for myself. They said no problem, so I had to wait a year to get the paperwork approved. Since then, I’ve received SBIR funding from the USDA and DARPA, and it all started with the concept of insects as a sustainable protein source and food ingredient. It has since expanded into bioresources, genetic engineering, and even vaccine production. Primarily, it’s a food ingredient company with IP around food processing. We’ve done a lot of product development and are trying to get investors to scale up and bring this concept to the mainstream food industry.

JD: So, eating bugs and not just eating, but the processing before eating?

Dr. Aaron Dossey: Exactly. The concept is farm-raised insects, not collecting from the wild. We’re not putting whole bugs on a plate; we’re grinding them into a powder or extracting oil and treating it like any other food ingredient. As you can see in the video, we have extruded snacks, cereals, and other foods where you can incorporate insect protein rather than less sustainable options like dairy, which use antibiotics, steroids, and hormones. Insect farming doesn’t use any of those, and you get a higher quality, more sustainable product.

Matt: I had crickets this weekend.

JD: How were they?

Matt: You know, I’m not going to say delicious, but they were better than expected. We went to a well-regarded Mexican restaurant in Minneapolis, and they served crickets. We had to try them.

Dr. Aaron Dossey: Those were probably chapulines, which are grasshoppers,

Matt: But maybe they were crickets. Either way, that’s great!

JD: I think it’s fascinating. Let’s talk about the invention. Is getting it into a fine powder the ultimate goal?

Dr. Aaron Dossey: The core of the innovation is grinding them before drying. Initially, everyone was roasting them and then grinding them, which requires a lot of heat and energy, destroying nutrients and creating a strong flavor and aroma. If you grind them into a liquid, pasteurize it, and then spray dry it, you end up with a much higher quality product, more scalable for the food industry.

JD: You mentioned one of the toughest things is raising money. You initially got grants from the Gates Foundation, SBIR, and DARPA. Can you share some lessons learned from that process for someone looking to start?

Dr. Aaron Dossey: Sure. One piece of advice is to understand where your money is going to come from in the next three to five years and not to start from scratch without a plan. Grants are great, but they’re often misunderstood. When you get a grant, you can’t use the money however you want. For example, the Gates Foundation grant was $100,000 for an 18-month project, which had to cover my salary and research. SBIRs have strict research requirements and limited funding for commercialization. If you’re not from a wealthy background, you have very few chances to fail and recover. Recently, some agencies have offered small supplements for commercialization, but you have to use them wisely.

JD: Have you seen any government uses for your discovery?

Dr. Aaron Dossey: Sometimes the military has more flexibility in how they use inventions. If they want something badly enough, they may still pay for it even if they technically have the right to make it in-house. For other agencies, if they need outside resources, they have to contract with the inventor first. So, you can subcontract to larger companies if needed.

JD: You mentioned you’re looking for investors now to scale up and go to market.

Dr. Aaron Dossey: Yes, we have lots of product prototypes and 13 years of R&D with patents. We’ve marketed the ingredient and know how to market it, but we focused too much on R&D and being an ingredient company rather than a consumer-facing brand. We’re ready to take some of our prototype products to market.

JD: Thank you, Dr. Dossey, for sharing your invention. You’ve been at this for 13 years, and it’s great to hear about sustainable protein options. I look forward to seeing your products on the market.

Dr. Aaron Dossey: Thank you. I’m still optimistic.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at https://boldip.com/contact/