US oyster growers finding promise in selling direct, says Fish 2.0 founder


  • Jeanine Stewart
  • July 13, 2017

Seafood industry supply chains are notorious for being long and opaque. Not for oyster growers, said Monica Jain, founder of the sustainable seafood investment competition Fish 2.0, who sees oysters as one of the most promising sectors represented in this year’s applicant pool.

“Most people [growers] are selling them direct,” Jain told Undercurrent News. She connects with oyster companies regularly through her biennial competition. This year, 161 entered for the chance to become one of the 40 finalists to present their sustainable seafood business ideas to a room of 300 attendees, including investors, at the finals in November.

At this point, "of the 80 contestants moving on to this year’s competition’s final rounds, more than a dozen are oyster companies", Jain said.

Restaurants are beginning to tell the story of oyster varietals’ origins and encouraging customers to master the flavor profiles of various seeds. This marketing is similar to the strategies restaurants use for wine, where discussing the product is part of the lure of the product itself. Restaurants that buy direct can educate consumers on these points more easily, since they are already in contact with those who know everything about the product’s origin. This strategy seems to be working with consumers, Jain said.

“Restaurants actually don’t make a lot of money on [oysters], but they want them on the menu because it drives traffic,” Jain said. “People really look for places that have oysters on the menu, especially fresh oysters. [Restaurants] are excited about it because it brings people in.”

For example, In Carmel, California, there are several places that do a wine and oyster pairing to bring customers in. Regardless of how much restaurants make on these sales alone, they have a big impact when many of those customers decide to stay for dinner, said Jain, who is based in California.

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What people are saying about Fish 2.0

  • Mitchell Presser - Freshfields US and Investor in Ag Tech
    Fish 2.0 is a fantastic forum, bringing together innovative and cutting edge ideas for the future of our most efficient source of animal protein
    - Mitchell Presser, Freshfields US and Investor in Ag Tech
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    Participating in Fish 2.0 as a judge, mentor and investor has made connecting easy, at both the local and global level.
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  • Mike Velings - Aqua-Spark
    Fish 2.0 has brought us really interesting deals to look at, gives a good sense of challenges and opportunities in the global seafood sector, and is always a great time.
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    Fish 2.0 shows my investor base vetted, prepped organizations at sane expectations and valuations.
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  • Leigh Moran - Calvert Foundation
    Fish 2.0 is unique amongst business competitions in that investors are ready to invest and competitors actually get investment! That is all too rare in many business competitions
    - Leigh Moran, Calvert Foundation
  • Kate Danaher - RSF Social Finance
    Working with Fish 2.0 as an online judge and advisor has given us amazing exposure to great companies/pipeline but more importantly it has given us the opportunity to educate ourselves on the sector.
    - Kate Danaher, RSF Social Finance
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • Mitchell Lench - Treetops Capital
    Awareness about sustainable seafood continues to rise, and impact investors want to support new initiatives in this arena, but it’s hard to find them. It was useful to see so many different types of sustainable seafood companies all in one place.
    - Mitchell Lench, Treetops Capital
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • What I liked about Fish 2.0 was
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    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.
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  • 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)
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    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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • This is the most professional event I’ve attended in this sector.
    - Investor, Fish 2.0 2015
  • 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)
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  • 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
  • Ed Robinson - Acadia Harvest
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  • Hoyt Peckham - SmartFish
    It changed the way I prepare for all sorts of investor interactions, and it greatly improved our success.
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    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)