Oyster businesses, oral vaccines and a land-based eel farm among the tantalizing seafood investment opportunities
At the Fish 2.0 Innovation Forum last week, a few dozen visionary seafood entrepreneurs cast their lines in a room full of seafood-focused investors, hoping to find one (or more) who could catapult their business to commercialization.
For some, the global connections forged at the event were reward enough. But for others, their dreams took a step forward toward reality.
Held at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., the biannual conference/competition showcased 40 new seafood businesses, or related services, from around the world. Each was represented by a single entrepreneur who had mere moments – some had 90 seconds, others a full three minutes – to win over a panel of expert judges (not to mention a room of 200-plus attendees) evaluating their pitch, their product, their technology, or their business model.
Event Founder and Executive Director Monica Jain, whose team vetted 184 applications – many of which were “investment-ready businesses” – said the record-high interest indicated the fast pace of change throughout the sector.
“Seafood innovation is growing like never before,” said Jain, who said that more than $60 million has been invested into seafood businesses that presented at Fish 2.0 since the event’s launch in 2013. “We can start change, right here in 36 hours, that can last for decades to come.”
Winners were chosen on the strength of the business opportunity (business model, product-to-market fit and go-to-market strategy), meaningful impact and compelling leadership and presentation.
Of the nine eventual winners, five have connections to aquaculture: Panacea Oysters in Crawfordville, Fla., USA; Real Oyster Cult in Duxbury, Mass., USA; EnerGaia in Bangkok, Thailand; NovoNutrients in Sunnyvale, Calif., USA; and American Unagi in Thomaston, Maine, USA.