Interview with Danielle and Alejandra, founders of Ento

Danielle and Alejandra are best friends with a shared passion for entomophagy and healthy, sustainable living. Ento was created to bring a fresh perspective to how protein is considered and consumed, a tasty alternative protein powder that has the health of the wider planet at the heart of its story.

What began as an energised chat about a shared passion for entomophagy quickly evolved into a game-changing entovegan blend of mealworm, pea protein, brown rice protein and velvety smooth cacao. 

Ento is a deliciously distinct yet highly nutritional protein blend that’s just at home being added to a juice or smoothie as it is being sprinkled over one’s breakfast or baked deep within a gloriously gooey brownie. 

Danielle and Alejandra produce everything in the UK to support local manufacturers, creating a sublime commotion of 20 beneficial vitamins and minerals. In ballpark terms, Ento will appeal to anyone needing help living a frenetic, 100mph lifestyle. 

Mealworms are without question the original superfood at sits at the very heart of the Ento offer, a gloriously well-rounded insect which provides more vitamin B12 than salmon, more iron than spinach and more calcium than milk. 

What are your career backgrounds?

Danielle: I’m a freelance graphic designer

Alejandra: My background is working within International Trade at the Chamber of Commerce.

What attributes enable Ento collective to stand proud of the protein shake crowd?

Too many protein shakes promise the earth but fall short in terms of either taste, nutritional validity or claims sincerity (image over substance). We contain no masking sugars, no ultra-processed ingredients and no synthetic extras. What’s more we actively advocate the use of meal worms that offer top drawer nutritional support whilst remaining low in saturated fats, salt and sugar.

It’s vital that brands like us exist to showcase insects in the most sustainable light possible. Products like Ento will normalise the consumption of edible insects so we can truly acknowledge mealworms, as the natural go-to providers of sustainable protein, minerals, amino acids and essential vitamins.

After all, insects offer an unrivalled protein content (60g per 100g grams) Vs beef (54g per 100g) chicken (43g per 100g) and (soy 41.1g per 100g) whilst requiring only a fraction of the land and water that traditional farming demands. Insects, after all, eat bio-waste and can be farmed vertically at speed. 

It’s also hard to escape the fact that most vegan protein shakes taste grim because of their over-dependence on chalky bitter pea protein. In stark contrast mealworms offer a sublime nutty twang. 

What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

Clearly edible insects remain an uncomfortable concept for many Westerners, although a growing appreciation of World Cuisine and what ‘healthier living’ looks like, coupled with mounting concerns regarding the precarious state of the planet means that radical eating solutions with a lighter impact on our increasingly fragile planet need to be considered with fresh eyes.

Common sense surely dictates that there will be irreversible consequences if we keep stripping our planet of its lungs (trees turn carbon-dioxide into oxygen) to make way for old-school farmland and methane generating livestock. 

Latest estimates suggest that entomophagy could be a $6.3 billion industry by 2030 with 2 billion consumers already embracing nutrient-dense insects as part of a sustainable/everyday affordable daily diet. 

And your proudest moments so far?

Seeing our stylish tubular packaging in the flesh. 100% bio-degradable packaging designed with recycled and recyclable cardboard – although our Amazon debut comes a pretty close second.

What lessons have you learned from lockdown?

In broad brush terms it appeared that Lockdown resulted in a significant uplift in the number of people who embraced exercise regimes, the number of people who looked a little closer at both their own and the wider family’s health and who recalibrated their daily eating regimes to include a greater quota of well-balanced home-cooked meals. 

Who is your ideal customer?

The aforementioned lifestyle changes reaffirmed our view that nutritious protein powders are not simply for ardent gym goers but for discerning health food lovers and their entire family (including children).

We wanted a versatile family-centric brand that was as comfortable being spun in a blender as it was being added to a decadent brownie OR Rocky Road, by which we meant a brand that gave equal weighting to great taste and nutritional wealth! 

Which brands do you admire?

Pukka Tea – eco-friendly, unashamedly wellbeing but not preachy! This is a brand that sets its stall out to be best-in-class with an aesthetically stunning brand identity that reflects its unrivalled quality and depth of offer.

Tony’s Chocolonely – a brand with big ambitions and a spiky sense of humour that actively re-invests in farming co-operatives to ensure both fairtrade prices and an end to abhorrent slave labour.

What advice would you share with other entrepreneurs?

Never be afraid to knock on doors or ask questions because no-one starts out with a watertight plan. Don’t procrastinate needlessly crossing all your t’s and dotting all your 1’s because however thorough you think you’ve been and however wedded to your vision you think you are, there will be inevitable reprioritising and u-turns along the way. 

Knowing this to be true, acknowledge that errors and setbacks are inevitable, appreciate every good call you make and don’t beat yourself up when every so often the wheels fall off (because at some point they will)!

What’s next for Ento?

At this moment in time we’re one sku ‘grub blend’ and as velvety smooth as our non-alkalised, Dominican Republic of Congo cacao undoubtedly is, in time we need to broaden our appetite appeal, which is why we’re currently testing a couple of alternative flavour profiles for 2022. 

Find out more about Ento.