“Fish 2.0 accelerated our business to a fundamentally different level.” “It’s boosted the confidence and pride of board and staff in our business model, in addition to validating our model with current and potential funders.” “Winning Fish 2.0 was a huge event for our young company.”
Barely six months past the 2015 Fish 2.0 Finals, participants in the business competition—designed to grow the sustainable seafood sector—are showing significant momentum. The comments above illustrate the progress we’re seeing: improved business models, new products and partnerships, and investor interest, including actual investments. This quick progress proves that the Fish 2.0 network is accelerating growth and innovation.
The entrepreneurs tell their stories best, so I’ll share a few here.
Love the Wild, a Colorado-based company that sells traceable, sustainable fish packaged with gourmet sauces, is discussing Series A investments with two firms that the team met at Fish 2.0. The company is also testing potential new products featuring seafood from Fish 2.0 network members Pacifico Aquaculture, SmartFish, and others.
Love the Wild won the Rabobank Open Door Prize (consultation time with Rabobank’s lending and seafood analyst teams), which has yielded introductions to potential investors and buyers, reports Love the Wild CEO Jacqueline Claudia.
“Fish 2.0 made us a company to watch—and that’s opened the door to a lot of press opportunities, investors, retailers, partners, [and so on]”, says Claudia. “The best thing coming out of Fish 2.0 is the network. It’s a real community, and the connections keep getting stronger.”
More effective investor pitches
“As a result of Fish 2.0 discussions and feedback, we went back to our business plan and simplified it. Investors seem to understand things faster, and we can talk about upside without sounding too aggressive,” says Acadia Harvest CEO Ed Robinson. “It has been useful to understand more clearly the motivations of investors who are at least equally concerned with the environmental and social impacts of our company. This has helped us to refine our story and to target potential investors more effectively.”
The company connected with potential investors and lenders through Fish 2.0, has nearly completed its targeted capital raise, and is taking steps toward raising $8.5 million for a new plant. Its Pentair Open Door Prize will further strengthen Acadia’s team and operations.
Quixotic Farming, a Missouri-based aquaculture company, anticipates improving its business as well through its Open Door Prize from Fish Vet Group. “When we had our first conversation with Fish Vet Group, we realized we could create efficiencies beyond what we thought [possible],” says Randy Constant, founder and CEO of Quixotic. He adds that Fish Vet Group was willing to customize its training based on Quixotic’s questions and interests.
Better business models
Salty Girl Seafood, a California-based packaged seafood company that sells portioned and premarinated sustainable fish, emerged from Fish 2.0 with a reshaped business model. “We ultimately pivoted to a new business model during the process of applying to Fish 2.0. The application process provided the structure we really needed to answer the hard questions about our new model, from both an environmental and a social impact perspective as well as a scalability perspective,” says co-founder Norah Eddy.
She adds that winning a Fish 2.0 prize helped validate Salty Girl’s market opportunity with the new model and allowed the company to attend Natural Products Expo West. “We were able to extend the reach of our mission in a much shorter time frame, as we received significant interest from retailers, distributors and influencers who are equally passionate about driving positive change in the seafood industry.”
New partners and products
New collaborations among our network members are, for me, among the most powerful outcomes of Fish 2.0. And it’s exciting to see these partnerships forming across borders and oceans.
In Mexico, SmartFish, which supplies fish caught by Baja co-ops, is working on improving its business strategies with support from the High Liner Foods team, a relationship launched through a Fish 2.0 Open Door Prize.
Karsidete Teeranitayatarn of Thailand’s Green Innovative Biotechnology, which enables more sustainable aquaculture systems, got ideas for a new product from other Fish 2.0 participants. He is building on connections he made with people from Fiji, Canada, Alaska, Marshall Islands, and Silicon Valley.
PAFCO Fiji, a tuna processing plant, is experimenting with a new canned tuna product for export, inspired by conversations with a seafood buyer at the Fish 2.0 Finals. And ARCAE of Costa Rica, which markets locally caught sustainable fish and received a Fish 2.0 Professional Services Award, is discussing strategy and sharing experiences with SmartFish. The collaboration has been “an attention-grabbing catalyst for ARCAE’s initiative,” reports ARCAE CEO Andy Bystrom.
These stories are just a handful of the advances Fish 2.0 has created. We are now seeking sponsors and network members to shape new competitions in 2017 and 2018, and keep building the momentum for sustainable seafood. You can be part of the change by joining us at www.fish20.org.