A Chat with Arseniy Olkhovskiy, Founder and CEO at Insect Farming Startup: FlyFeed

Arseniy Olkhovskiy

FlyFeed is an international insect farming startup that produces insect protein, fat and fertilizers from black soldier flies for animal feed and pet food and, in the future, for human food. We target 3 billion people likely to face food insecurity due to the current recession and geopolitical climate. Our production processes use organic leftovers as insect feed, reducing the final price of manufactured protein and helping local governments solve food waste issues.

FlyFeed was launched in November 2021. Our first insect farm will be constructed in Vietnam in 2023. We are a team of over 35 PhDs, engineers, entomologists and chemists from leading insect-producing companies, joined with an aim to build sustainable insect protein production.

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I believe the best way for an entrepreneur to both live a happier life and have a meaningful business is by building companies that bring positive scenarios for humanity’s development closer. Fighting world hunger obviously has the biggest impact, making people happier, healthier and fueling their potential. Taking into account the current climate issues, I focused on sustainable ways to tackle the problem of food insecurity.

Our team did thorough research on 40+ alternative food production technologies, and insect farming just looked like an optimal choice from every perspective. So yes, I started FlyFeed as a business aiming to beat global hunger.

Instead of starting up a farm in Europe – within the relatively familiar space but non-optimal conditions, we ventured to plunge into uncharted waters. We have analyzed more than 70 locations suitable for insect farming, and opted for Vietnam, which looked like the best solution. My team landed an opportunity to meet the Vietnamese government to discuss the prospects of large-scale insect protein production. As a result, now Vietnam is supportive of FlyFeed.

What’s more, we managed to attract world-leading experts to our team, which was a challenge as well, since all of them are well-established professionals with ongoing work and plans to pursue. It turned out that our mission, determination and approach were crucial for their decision-making.

Flyfeed implements top-tech solutions borrowed from lots of industries as well as our own know-how to achieve high efficiency in all processes. In addition, FlyFeed builds partnerships with universities, research centres, labs and experts, as well as invests in owned R&D.

How has the company evolved over the last couple of years?

Though we launched only last year, a lot of great things have already been done. First, we made up a team of top industry professionals, including Dr. Nathalie Berezina, ex-CTO/CSO Ynsect; Dr. Jurek Pastuszak, nutrition expert; and Dmitriy Mikhailov, associate professor at the National University of Singapore.

On top of that, we were happy to see that the Vietnamese government is ready to support us on our way to recycling 40,000+ tonnes of organic leftovers per year and securing supply infrastructure. We raised a $3M seed round to proceed with the construction of our first commercial insect farm. Moreover, FlyFeed has already signed $10M+ in pre-contracts with top-tier EU feed companies, which demand high-quality insect products.

What can we hope to see from Flyfeed in the future?

Our pilot facility covering up to 15000 square meters will produce over 17.5 thousand tons of insect products yearly, thus upcycling 40 thousand tons of food leftovers. FlyFeed will create up to 600 direct and indirect jobs in Vietnam.

After adjusting all technological details in our first commercial facility, we plan to scale up by 20 times in the next four years, constructing 10 more sites across Asia and Africa.