Seafood and aquaculture businesses only have until April 27 to sign up for the 2015 Fish 2.0 business competition, which gives seafood businesses an opportunity to gain visibility, find strategic partners and, ultimately, garner new investments in the range of $100,000 to over $10 million. Investors gain early access to new deals and learn how sustainable seafood can help build their portfolios. This year the competition puts a special focus, complete with special prize packages, on entrepreneurs coming from the South Pacific Islands.
In this year’s competition, businesses from around the world will vie for over $180,000 in cash and service prizes, along with direct connections to industry leaders. During the competition finals at Stanford University in November, 36 finalists will present their ideas to investors. Fish 2.0 is open to both established companies and early-stage enterprises, and there is no fee to enter. Businesses can apply at www.fish20.org.
“Fish 2.0 is the best thing I’ve ever done in the context of my business” – Dane Chauvel
“Fish 2.0 is the best thing I’ve ever done in the context of my business,” says Dane Chauvel of Organic Ocean Seafood, a 2013 competition finalist. “We exceeded revenue projections by 10 percent last year and are on track to realize a 30 percent year-over-year increase in revenue this year. This wouldn’t have happened in the absence of Fish 2.0—it accelerated our path and provided a networking opportunity that we never would have gained otherwise.”
This year, more than 15 corporate industry leaders, investors and philanthropists, including the International diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA), the U.S. Department of State, Pentair, CEI, Google Oceans Program and RSF Social Finance, have joined together to support the Fish 2.0 competition. The breadth of sponsors reflects a growing interest in the seafood sector among investors with expertise in technology, supply chain operations and food systems.
“Investors see rising demand for sustainable seafood products and an industry that is ripe for innovation,” says Monica Jain, Fish 2.0 founder. “Many in the seafood sector see these opportunities, too. They have plans to grow their businesses and reach new markets—but they struggle to identify the right investors. Fish 2.0 connects these groups.”
Investors come to Fish 2.0 with a variety of interests, ranging from supply chain logistics to community development. (They may sign up as competition advisors and judges via http://www.fish20.org/.)
“We have a 35-year history of investing in fisheries and aquaculture, and we’ve seen both financial and impact performance from these deals,” says Dick Clime of CEI, a community investment institution in Maine and Fish 2.0 sponsor. “Fish 2.0 helps us see a large number of new, quality businesses in one place.
“We believe sustainable aquaculture will play a big role in the future of food production globally,” says Todd Gleason, senior vice president of growth for Pentair, a global company with $7 billion in revenue that is also a sponsor. “We’re excited to support the growth of innovation in the sector.”
During the 2013 competition, 160 businesses applied and 21 finalists presented to a room of over 100 investors. Many of these companies report great growth in the past year.
As Jain explains, “In 2013, we were simply showing people that there were great business opportunities in sustainable seafood; now we’re showing people the breadth and depth of the sector—we’re excited for more businesses and investors to join us in 2015.”