10 to Watch Winner 2022 – Doodlebug Pet Food – Douglas Magazine
Sector: Pet Food
Year Launched: 2021
Founder: Danielle Lowe
Unique Selling Proposition: Overcoming the stigma of insects as food.
Strategy: Becoming flexible, going for it and figuring it out as you go.
Her original idea was a veggie patty powered by the protein of powdered insects. But Danielle Lowe knew that humans might not be quite ready for a bug burger on the BBQ, so she switched her recipe to focus on our canine companions.
Doodlebug Pet Food was born in the spring of 2021, a year into the pandemic, delivering a then-20-year-old UVic business and entrepreneurship student into a world of cookie baking — creating handmade peanut butter-banana and pumpkin-apple dog treats — all in her own kitchen.
“Originally, I tried to overstrategize and over-plan, and it was too slow-moving,” says Lowe. “I was looking for confirmation … I think it was coming out of a school mindset where there was a right and wrong answer to everything.”
Lowe is flying solo, sourcing the insect protein from a Canadian firm, rolling the dough, doing her own packaging, shipping and marketing. And overcoming the fact she’s so young.
There were suggestions Lowe couldn’t possibly succeed at both finishing school and running a small business.
“It was at the idea stage, too, of my business, when everything is so fragile,” says Lowe. “So I was like, maybe I should wait. But I learned that wasn’t true, and here I am doing well in school and in my business.”
Early on, Lowe saw how popular Doodlebug would be. She’d sell out at markets, and, on Black Friday, she advertised a buy-two-get-one-free deal on her website and ended up filling a couple hundred immediate orders.
The next step is automation and upping production, an expansion to insect-based kibble, a line of cat food and a subscription service with delivery. Then, one day, getting insect protein into the human diet.
Lowe has done the math. Eating insect protein is in all of our futures. Not just for dogs.
“Crickets are a healthier source of protein and more sustainable and more humane,” she points out. “The only thing that’s stopping people is the food aversion.”