• Paul M.J. Suchecki
  • April 2, 2015

Fish is one of the healthiest foods, high in protein, vitamin D, and if it’s a cold deep water fish, like Pacific Salmon, the same compounds that keep fish blood circulating, Omega 3 fatty acids, can keep our own blood flowing too, lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, increasing world demand has led to 40 percent of the world’s fisheries being overfished resulting in more than $50 billion of global economic losses per year. Worse, the trend poses a profound threat to human food sources.

Many funders are on this case, including some of the biggest U.S. foundations. And more keep joining the battle. Last year, for example, Bloomberg Philanthropies jumped into this field with a $53 million initiative. Saving fisheries is hot, and we've been covering the ins and outs of how funders are trying to tackle this challenge in creative new ways.

One initiative that caught our eye is a unique investor/foundation sponsored business competition called Fish 2.0 that seeks to grow the sustainable seafood business. Several heavy-weight funders have lined behind this effort, including the Packard Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.

Together with investors, they’ve put together a pot of money that will be awarded to the top innovative businesses among 36 finalists after they make their pitch to investors at Stanford University in October. Finalists’ travel expenses will be met as well. At Stanford, participants will be given feedback from investors and technical experts and networking opportunities. Six winners will win $150,000 each. Another six will win $30,000 each. Various other awards will also be given out.

The competition is open to businesses worldwide ranging from startups to established entities that seek to grow. This is the second Fish 2.0 competition. Most of the 21 finalists from the 2013 Fish 2.0 competition showed significant business increases after their participation. How innovative did the winner have to be? The company that came out on top was Blue Sea Labs, a San Francisco based company which is now providing an e-commerce portal to connect consumers directly to 22 small boat fishermen who offer sustainable, wild-harvested seafood.

If you’re interested in applying, keep in mind that the investors have definite areas of the seafood business in which they are participating and that most are looking to augment their existing portfolios. It’s best to look at the Fish 2.0 sponsors and their areas of focus, targeting your pitch to meet their specific needs. Here are two, one a for-profit the other a non-profit with strikingly different agendas:

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What people are saying about Fish 2.0

  • Dr. Karsidete Teeranitayatarn - Green Innovative Biotech
    This made my company grow up and served as a springboard. We received interest and collaboration from around the world, including Fiji, Northern Canada, Alaska, Marshall Island, and venture capitalists from Silicon Valley.
    -Dr. Karsidete Teeranitayatarn, Fish 2.0 2015 Finalist (Thailand)
  • Andriet Tilfas - Hapmak Market
    It helped me connect with a lot of new business people around the world. Not only to help with our small scale in a remote island but to expand services because there are a lot of opportunities out there.
    - Andriet Tilfas, Fish 2.0 2015 Competitor (Micronesia)
  • What I liked about Fish 2.0 was
    the high-quality content and very well curated line-up of companies.
    - Investor, Fish 2.0 2015
  • Beau Seil - Unitus Impact
    We believe that creating sustainable fisheries will have long-lasting impact on ensuring and improving the livelihoods of large populations in the developing world.
    - Beau Seil, Managing Partner, Unitus Impact
  • David Walfish - Ho'olou Pacific
    The Fish 2.0 organizers have done a fantastic job creating the world's first fishing and aquaculture business competition. Our advisors and the webinars have been top-notch, and the amount of interest and number of investors Fish 2.0 has attracted is incredible.
    - David Walfish, Fish 2.0 2013 Third Place Winner (USA)
  • David Stover - Bureo
    It makes you kind of step back and look at what's actually going on, ... question what path are you on, where are we going ... in that sense, it's an extremely valuable process to kind of put things on paper and take a look at it.
    - David Stover, Fish 2.0 2015 Finalist (Chile)
  • Mike Betts - AgFunder
    Fish 2.0 provided a huge amount of value to the investor community in really getting exposure for and curating companies, that is super valuable. It's one of the best I have been to in the food and ag sector. Everything from the quality of the attendees and companies, the content, the engagement.
    - Mike Betts, AgFunder (USA)
  • Gary Beatty - Inland Shrimp Company
    People found us through the media around Fish 2.0 – people who want to have shrimp locally have gone out of their way to contact us."
    - Gary Beatty, Fish 2.0 2013 Semi-finalist (USA)
  • Brett Haywood - Sea Quest Group
    Helped us look within and be able to convey our positive impacts, whether its socially, environmentally or resource based, and convey this to our markets and partners.
    - Brett Haywood, Fish 2.0 2015 Finalist (Fiji)
  • Fish 2.0 offers
    a unique mix of innovative business ideas and people who have the influence to make them succeed.
    - Dick Clime, CEI Maine
  • Kelly Harrell - Alaska Marine Conservation Council
    For those in the fisheries world, Fish 2.0 has quickly become the go-to place for those interested in advancing cutting-edge business models focused on the triple-bottom line of social, environmental, and economic impact.
    - Kelly Harrell, Fish 2.0 2015 Finalist (USA)
  • Hoyt Peckham - SmartFish
    It changed the way I prepare for all sorts of investor interactions, and it greatly improved our success.
    - Hoyt Peckham, Fish 2.0 2013 Semi-finalist (Mexico)
  • Ed Robinson - Acadia Harvest
    All the people we dealt with on the Fish 2.0 team were great to work with. We’d have no hesitation to do it again.
    - Ed Robinson, Fish 2.0 2013 Semi finalist and 2015 Finalist (USA)
  • Fish 2.0 is the place to
    learn more about what kinds of technology and business advances are occurring in the seafood industry.
    - Investor, Fish 2.0 2015
  • Roxanne Nanninga - Tru Fish
    This was a great opportunity to pitch to a very relevant group of people. I made some very valuable connections.
    - Roxanne Nanninga, Fish 2.0 2015 Finalist (USA)
  • Margot Kane - Calvert Foundation
    Fish 2.0 helps fill a critical missing part of the ecosystem around financing sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. We look forward to connecting this effort to our thousands of investors motivated by positive social and environmental change.
    - Margot Kane, Calvert Foundation and Fish 2.0 2015 & 2013 Judge
  • Kit Barron - CapLog Group
    Fish 2.0 takes the fish by the fins and creates a much needed mechanism through which the right industry experience, innovative thinkers and financial backing can come together to move new ideas in seafood to market.
    - Kit Barron, CapLog Group, LLC and Fish 2.0 2013 Advisor
  • Alan Lovewell - Local Catch Monterey Bay
    Fish 2.0 is a great way to expand your network. We learned about other fish businesses and opportunities for collaboration--that exposure is very hard to do on your own.
    - Alan Lovewell, Fish 2.0 2013 Finalist (USA)
  • Sherry Flummerfelt - Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust
    I made some excellent connections, learned so much, and feel like our organization has grown considerably as a result of participating in Fish 2.0.
    - Sherry Flummerfelt, Fish 2.0 2015 Finalist (USA)
  • Gary Ullstrom - Kuterra
    It’s not just a seminar, it’s the real thing – you’re pitching to real people with real money.
    - Gary Ullstrom, Fish 2.0 2013 Finalist (Canada)
  • This is the most professional event I’ve attended in this sector.
    - Investor, Fish 2.0 2015
  • Emmanuelle Bourgois - FairAgora
    Fish 2.0 competition has been a unique learning experience. It shaped the idea from a concept to a robust business model, boosted confidence in my entrepreneurship skills and is the real starting point of this amazing and innovative adventure.
    - Emmanuelle Bourgois, Fish 2.0 2015 Competitor (Thailand)
  • Dane Chauvel - Organic Ocean Seafood
    Fish 2.0 helped us grow our business, but more importantly, it helped us optimize our business. We are doing more, and doing it better. I don’t believe we would have gotten here as quickly if we had not gone through the Fish 2.0 planning exercise.
    - Dane Chauvel, Fish 2.0 2013 Finalist (Canada)
  • Alfred Kalontas - Alfa Fishing
    Fish 2.0 helped me understand my brand better. It helped me refine my business structure to represent my business brand.
    - Alfred Kalontas, Fish 2.0 2015 Finalist (Vanuatu)
  • Diane Durance - Harvest Food & Fisheries
    As a semi-finalist in 2013, I experienced first-hand how important it is to get your venture in front of investors who are knowledgeable and interested in your field. Fish 2.0 is the organization making that possible for entrepreneurs in aquaculture and sustainable fisheries.
    - Diane Durance, Fish 2.0 2013 Semi-finalist (USA)