PALO ALTO, California -- Follow all the news from the Fish 2.0 business competition, held for the third time since 2013 at the campus of Stanford University. The event awards up to $40,000 in cash prizes to the top-scoring businesses among 39 finalists who seek to launch or expand ventures in the sustainable seafood sector. An additional 11 companies are also offering mentorship opportunities, consultation and other prizes.
There were 184 companies entering from around the world participating in this year's competition up from 170 in 2013. Investors from around the world also attended the event.
Of those 184, 80 made it into the semi-finals, a field that was winnowed down to 39.
Undercurrent News will be live-blogging the two day event.
Seafood innovation ‘no longer an oxymoron’, co-founder says
With its third event since 2014, after viewing the interest among investors and entrepreneurs in the sector, Fish 2.0 co-founder Monica Jain said that she believes that seafood innovation is no longer considered an oxymoron.
“Before it was hard to get third- and fourth-generation folks from fishing families to stay in the industry. They were leaving to pursue other careers that they thought might be more interesting or more lucrative. And now they’re coming back and they’re bringing ideas from the other paths they were pursing with them. And that’s creating change and that’s exciting,” she said.
Maine eel grower wins short pitch competition
Thomaston, Maine-based eel growing startup American Unagi was voted Fish 2.0’s contestant that audience members would most like to connect with, in a round of 90-second pitches that included 17 seafood startups from around the world.
The company, CEO Sara Rademaker said, sources locally harvested glass eels from the US state and grows them out domestically, currently in a pilot-scale facility.
Investors: Seafood growth about making consumers ‘comfortable’
Several investors and seafood sector observers told a room for of entrepreneurs at Fish 2.0, that attracting more consumers to eat seafood is about making them comfortable.
Brad Barnhorn of Winona Capital said that other emerging food sectors, such as fresh juice offer lessons for seafood.
He founded the Fantasia Fresh Juice Company in the 1990s at a time when healthy beverages weren’t seen as demanded by US consumers.
Taking a product out of the produce category and making “smoothies” into a convenience food happened relatively quickly, he said.
Fishmeal alternatives, artisanal fishing focus of innovation efforts
Two very different corners of the seafood sector — efforts to improve conditions for traditional fishers in developing countries and ways to reduce fishmeal makers’ dependence on wild-caught fish — are attracting a fair amount of attention from entrepreneurs.
Speaking during Fish 2.0’s “Wild Fisheries and Innovative Fish Feeds” category presentations, six presenters made their cases for funding that they say will help them scale up their successful new ideas.
Firms target disease, South Pacific aquaculture projects
No one sitting in the conference room at Stanford University’s Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center on Nov. 7 appeared to doubt that aquaculture holds significant promise to feed future generations.
But the six startups making their pitches to a panel of judges during Fish 2.0’s “Aquaculture Production and Related” category had varying approaches and business models aimed at tackling the sector’s challenges.
Startups seek to fill in seafood’s information gaps
Five of this year’s contestants at the Fish 2.0 business competition are particularly focused on transforming the sector’s traditional way of record-keeping and information gathering to the digital age.
Such efforts, panelists have argued, are key to meeting the needs of consumers who are increasingly demanding traceability and transparency from complicated international supply chains.
Firms eye changing supply chains for tuna, salmon, oysters
Startups that fish and farm tuna, salmon, oysters told the Fish 2.0 audience that they have found better ways to supply seafood, tweaking their methods to find efficiencies and improve profitability.
Five firms in the competition’s “Changing seafood supply chains” category showcased their plans to innovate traditional practices.
Two US startups — Duxbury, Massachusetts’ Real Oyster Cult and Panacea Oyster Co-op of Spring Creek, Florida — are focused on helping shellfish farmers connect to customers, building brands that they say are resonating.
Traceability demands pose challenges to, provide chances for smaller fisheries
New rules and the ongoing global push for transparency and traceability in seafood supply chains could come at a cost particularly for smaller suppliers and fisheries, panelists at Fish 2.0 said.
In the US, new regulations such as the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Seafood Import Monitoring Program are putting new pressure on importers with respect to knowing their supply chain.
Millennial-focused seafood startup went national after 2015 competition
Boulder, Colorado-based seafood meal-kit startup LoveTheWild has expanded into 2,400 stores across the US in two years, which CEO Jacqueline Claudia attributed to the exposure and connections she made through Fish 2.0.
“When I was here last time we were mostly vision. And when I say ‘mostly vision’ I mean ‘mostly vision’. We sold less than $1,000 worth of products in two stores in Boulder, Colorado,” she said.
Tags: 2017 Finals