Fish 2.0 winners Real Oyster Cult tightens consumers’ connection to the sea
Oyster farmers Rob Knecht and Sims McCormick opted to cut out middlemen and wholesalers with Real Oyster Cult, their fledgling online oyster business, and deliver their briny shellfish direct from farm to consumer.
Five months in they’ve shipped close to 500 boxes (containing 20 to 100 oysters each) to 46 different states. When they walked off with a $5,000 prize after pitching their business to investors at Fish 2.0 (for a New England seafood business with high potential for scalability and a strong branding strategy), it was the ultimate recognition that they’re on the right track.
“We work seven days a week on this business and it’s nice to get recognition from the industry that validates what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” Knecht told the Advocate. “That was even more important than the $5,000!”
Knecht began farming oysters when he and his wife bought Sailor’s Bay Oyster Farm in Duxbury, Mass., in 2009, and has since spent the last eight years reflecting on the supply chain and his oysters’ end destination. Their customers were mostly wholesalers, who held a lot of sway in where the product ended up.
“We had friends who owned restaurants and were excited to get our product, but at certain times of year they couldn’t get it, even though we had plenty to sell,” he said. “We found it frustrating that our wholesalers were dictating supply and demand. And we’d heard stories about some wholesalers taking product and trying to sell it under a different brand name, which creates traceability and transparency issues.”