On Monday night’s episode of Dans l’Oeil Du Dragon, Quebec’s french-language version of Dragon’s Den, Montreal-based Naak struck a deal with two of the dragons, Caroline Néron et Martin-Luc Archambault, winning $30,000 in exchange for 24% of the company.
Naak makes energy bars from cricket powder, which is both more nutritious and more sustainable to produce than other protein sources. William Walcker, Minh-Anh Pham et Antoine Domergue, the three co-founders started considering insect protein alternatives after a 2013 UN report entitled “Edible insects: Future prospects for food and security”.
Cricket is a very eco-responsible source of protein: it takes 2000x less water to produce the same amount of protein as beef and it produces 100x less greenhouse gases. In addition, it is a super food: it has 2x more protein than beef, contains more calcium than milk, and has more iron than spinach.
Triathletes themselves, Walcker, Pham, and Domergue immediately realized the immense potential of this protein source for athletes and active people. They founded Naak, which stands for Nutrition Aventureuse for Athlètes who travel Kilomètres, with a singular obsession: to democratize the insect-based diet by demonstrating its effectiveness with sportsmen.
The team took advantage of the exposure on Dans l’Oeil Du Dragon to raise awareness and increase visibility all week, offering a 20% off promotion on their website.
“We got more than 3000 people yesterday on our website,” Domergue told MTLinTECH. “We thought it would be a good resource all week, not just yesterday during the dhow. We’ve seen a huge increase in site traffic, a lot of exposure, and a lot of people contacting us to partner for events.”
Naak previously participated in numerous triathlon, cycling and running events throughout the summer of 2016. They started producing and marketing the first bars from the back of a restaurant kitchen in May of that year, making 4,000 bars by hand before realizing they needed to increase their production capacity.
Faced with high demand, they appealed to the community by launching a crowdfunding campaign in November 2016 to finance scale-up production at the factory. The campaign was launched through their own website, tabarrenaak.com, and thrived on word of mouth. Their video was shared more than 600 times and seen more than 75,000 times. In less than half a day they reached 100% of their target. At the end of the three-week campaign, they had racked up over $14,000 in pre-sales.
📢 📺 BREAKING NEWS !!
Naak sera dans l’émission Dans l'oeil du dragon lundi prochain à 20h!
Participe au… https://t.co/wWynGoipw7
— Naak (@Naak_Bar) April 10, 2017
In January 2016 Naak signed an agreement with a co-producer, based in Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, who is now in charge of production. They have also started selling Naak bars in sports stores and natural products grocery stores, and are currently available in over 120 locations. With the investment money from the dragons, the team hopes it will soon be in many more.
“We’ll be investing in strengthening our retail partners, a lot of new retails stores. We want to be in 300 stores by the end of the year and we want to be present at big events, like the Iron Man, so we can show the bars to a lot people and get them to try them,” said Domergue.
And while the three co-founders have already expanded the team with two interns, they plan on expanding more for the summer.
“We hope to have 12 more people working for us this summer.”
The exposure from Dans l’Oeil du Dragon truly came at an opportune time for the Naak team.