Today we’d like to introduce you to Akissi Stokes.
Akissi, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
WUNDERgrubs Sweets & Treats was established in 2016, my life [and silent] partner Karim Nelson and I watched an old episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Haiti highlighting citizens left displaced and with a limited food supply in the wake of the catastrophic 2010 Haiti earthquake. I thought, “what food source could provide people with the necessary protein building blocks for sustenance, but be grown and harvested using very limited natural resources?” After stumbling upon the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Rome 2013 Report promoting Insects as Food and Feed, I was sold and ordered my first 10,000 yellow mealworms to experiment with as food and feed.
We introduced our brand to the market with a chocolate chip grub cookie because it was non-intimidating and who doesn’t love a cookie? The response at farmers markets, special events, tastings, and festivals has been great. We can’t wait to introduce additional products.
With the aid of local, Atlanta business accelerators – Start:ME Clarkston, CREATE with the Russell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and now as a Food Well Alliance Food Innovation Fellow with the Center for Civic Innovation, not to mention a micro-loan from the Emory Impact Investment Group (EIIG) – WUNDERgrubs is poised to offer metropolitan Atlanta residents complete protein options to eat that are tasty, affordable and accessible, plus sustainable. We aim to demystify entomophagy.
And just in case anyone wants to know, yes we eat them at home.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We definitely took the scenic route along the way. Acquiring a Food Sales License with the Georgia Department of Agriculture was an extremely collaborative effort. Given limited, to no, guidelines existed on how to manufacture grubs for human consumption, we had to work closely with the Program Associate to ensure we were compliant with state and federal livestock guidelines as much as possible.
WUNDERgrubs definitely pioneered a business plan that allowed us to finally secure our license, I believe, the first in Georgia for manufacturing edible insects.
Other struggles have just been the normal growing pains of learning how to navigate the food space in Atlanta, with the added layer of being in an emerging market.
Please tell us about WUNDERgrubs.
WUNDERgrubs was founded in 2016 by Akissi Stokes. The company was inspired by her early childhood growing up on a farm and her life [silent] partner’s background in water conservation and travels to countries with a scarcity of natural resources.
With a vision to create a food product that was a healthy, affordable, and sustainable source of protein, WUNDERgrubs introduced an all-natural energy cookie, and other foods enriched with grub protein powder – containing all nine essential amino acids, no water use, and minimal land use.
Our proudest moment to date is our impending IoT.ATL AgTech Challenge Living Lab which will allow us to pilot test and showcase our grub farm. The Living Lab we will expose underserved communities and schools to IoT technology, plus provide education on potential AgTech careers and retrain on needed skills.
What sets us apart in the local, Atlanta food space? Well, that’s easy, we really want to bug you! We aim to advocate for and educate consumers about entomophagy and are well on our way.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Hmmm…so many things. The one that stands out the most is on-boarding and engaging my silent partner earlier in the process. Having a really competent and passionate partner with whom to share ideas and business decisions adds an invaluable perspective, plus shares the load. If I had engaged him sooner, I would have saved myself some headaches and possibly scaled business much faster with less capital.
- Cookies starting at $7.99 1/2 dozen; prices subject to change
- Grub Powder starting at $2.99 per 1 lb.
- Address: 1017 Fair Street – Marddy’s Community Shared Kitchen, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30314
- Website: https://www.wundergrubs.com/
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @wundergrubs.com
- Facebook: @wundergrubs.com
Akissi Y. Stokes, Karim J. Nelson