The story of Ovipost began in the spring of 2017. Co-founders Trina Chiasson and James Ricci met at the World Record Largest Nachos event in San Francisco, CA. Behind two thirty-foot troughs filled with cricket chips, James was hosting an insect petting zoo. Trina walked by while talking to a friend about edible insects.
James is an entomologist who studied evolutionary genomics of disease vectors and reared hundreds of insect species. Trina is a data visualization nerd who built a data analysis software startup and sold it to Tableau. For several years, they had both been studying insect protein as a side interest.
But growing insects is hard work and requires significant labor. Scaling is impossible until labor can be reduced. Teq (Tequila Snorkel) Sassmannshaus is a hardware engineer who previously built automation systems at biotech companies. Her experience designing labor-saving technology for biological systems, combined with her passion for insects as a sustainable alternative protein made Tequila the perfect third co-founder. Trina and James met Tequila through mutual friends in late 2017 and Team Ovipost was born.
The team knew that there were enormous unlocked opportunities in mass-reared insects. Insects are efficient at converting feed and water into protein that can be fed to pets, humans, and livestock. They can be grown in compact spaces, fed agricultural byproducts, and boast a rich nutrient profile. People and animals need specific amino acids to thrive. Our planet has limited resources to meet growing demand. Ovipost was created to solve these problems.
In 2018, the team graduated from Y Combinator and moved from San Francisco to Labelle, Florida. Ovipost operates an R&D facility and a production insect farm, where we are proud to serve zoos, aquariums, breeders, pet stores, and others in the exotic pet market. Our mission is to help insects become an affordable, scalable, sustainable, high-protein ingredient for broad use throughout the agricultural supply chain.
In a tragic turn of events, James passed away in January 2020 due to health complications. The team, which has now grown to more than a dozen full-time employees, remembers him fondly and works hard every day to advance his vision for a healthy and sustainable future. We continue to honor the memory of James through The Entomophatron, a not-for-profit interactive art project and entomological education platform that he designed alongside Trina, in collaboration with Guerilla Science and the Pratt Institute.
Read more about Ovipost in Science News