Yesenia Gallardo co-founded Poda Foods during her time as a student at F&ES. Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Poda Foods raises and processes crickets into protein powder. Their powder is used by food entrepreneurs and restaurants making delicious cricket-based products. We asked Yesenia some questions about being a Women Entrepreneur.
What inspired you to found your business?
My mother is from Oaxaca, Mexico and I grew up going to visit my grandparents, aunts and uncles there every summer. We would always eat some chapulines, a type of grasshopper eaten in the region and I loved the salty, nutty flavor. I visited again the summer after my first year at Yale and it occurred to me that perhaps insects might be something that could catch on in the US. They are nutritious, sustainable and delicious. As I began to do more research, I found that there was the beginning of a “buzz” around them and I put together a team. Poda Foods was founded shortly after.
What are the main challenges you have faced as a Women Entrepreneur?
As a woman entrepreneur, and especially as a minority woman, there are challenges and some benefits. I feel I have to work extra hard to make sure I am assertive and, yes, I often have to correct people when they assume my co-founder is the CEO. At the same time, there has also been lot of support from women and Latinos in the business community, especially in Portland. They have embraced the company and me and have been so helpful and supportive.
What advice do you have for fellow Women Entrepreneurs?
My advice to any entrepreneur is to take risks. You might fail. Statistically, the odds are you will. I wonder sometimes if I will, too. I am not worried about failure, however. I am learning so much and growing in very important ways. When I look back at this experience, the only thing I will measure success by is whether I tried hard enough and gave it all I had, not whether the ventures succeeds or not.