I used to be the CEO and main shareholder of a business that helped over 80,000 people start their business over a ten year period so I have seen many a business plan.
On studying a statistically significant number of the ones that succeeded there were a number of features that stood out. One of the biggest I would classify as... a solution to a problem.
So I would always ask people with business ideas what problem are they solving and is there enough pain (incentive) for the buyer to invest money fixing it with your solution.
To get what I mean here are a nine problems to ponder:
- In the UK alone waste water treatment... that’s what we flush down the toilet, is 2.7 billion litres per day. A massive problem with a massive infrastructure to handle it.
- There are 1.3 billion tons of food waste goes to landfill each year in the world.
- It takes 1.3 tons of fish to produce 1 ton of fish meal which is inefficient and 10% of global fish production goes to fish meal leading to an estimated 60% of fish stocks overfished.
- The logistics behind getting fish destined for fish meal is substantial with fish being caught on average 10,000 km away from point of use which is a big carbon footprint.
- The raw material for land based animal food is Maize and Soya which requires water. This causes problems in areas where there are frequent droughts and uses much needed water.
- There are 2.3 billion people who lack basic safe ways to dispose of their human waste and 892m defecating in the open.
- The world needs to produce 69% more food by calorific vale by 2050 than was produced in 2006.
- World population is set to grow from 7.5 billion by 80 million this year and by more than this in each successive year.
- Climate change and water stressing will see large parts of the world have a net reduction in crop yields by as much as 50% and expected to hit in areas such as South America, Africa and large parts of Australia and Asia.
So if you can find a solution to any one of these then you are onto a winner. These are enormous problems with a real and sustained need for a solution.
Well there is a partial solution to all these problems in one business idea...Enter the Black Soldier fly
Here is how it works:
The Black Soldier fly produces larvae at a phenomenal rate, a single female can produce 500 eggs at a time which are into full grown larvae in two weeks. These maggots can then be dried and compacted into fish food. This has a protein level of 65% compared to soya at 35%. It is high in Amino acids and valuable fatty acids. A single kilogram of fly eggs produces 190 kilograms of dried larvae.
Black Soldier flies can eat their way through 100 tons of food waste (now not going to landfill) and turn that into 6.5 tons of animal and fish food. In many cases fish grow faster with maggot protein.
These flies also feed on a mixture of human waste and food waste.
Hold on…hold on. Human waste…is it edible?
EU states effectively approved the use of insect protein in fish food in July this year.
AgriProtein in SA has spent 8 years and significant sums of money in R&D (which is why the tax relief programme is so valuable…(plug Jumpstart)). Their raw material cost is less than zero as they are paid to take the food waste that the Black Soldier fly feeds on. They plan to have 200 Black Soldier farms around the world and many close to waste treatment plants.
Protrix in the Netherlands has raised €45m in debt and equity funding is the biggest deal in this nascent insect farming.
What about humans, can we eat it? The answer is yes. I heard a reporter from South African the other night saying it was a very pleasant taste and odourless. I can already hear you say…I am an entrepreneur... get me out of here!
What a great business idea. This is a solution to many big problems. The results are fantastic: there are more fish available, they are bigger, grow quicker and are full of protein, hardly any water is used in the process so more for other things and we dramatically reduce landfill for both food and human waste.
So if you want your business to FLY the question is what problem, or even better, problems does your product or service solve?
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about the author
Brian Williamson is our Entrepreneur in Residence. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.