The Impact of Fish 2.0

Seafood businesses hold the potential to improve global food security, ocean sustainability, and the livelihoods of local communities. But to transform the seafood industry, these businesses need capital investments to grow and take advantage of new markets. 

Click below to learn more about how seafood entrepreneurs and investors are using the new connections and knowledge gained through Fish 2.0 to build businesses that value sustainability.


Growing Businesses

Seafood entrepreneurs get the access, training, and connections needed to attract capital and increase their impact.  

“The Fish 2.0 advisors helped me develop a realistic plan to expand Local Catch Monterey from a small, local business to a regional enterprise. Now we have distribution centers in larger markets like San Francisco and San Jose – it’s increasing our revenue, but more importantly, it’s increasing the number of people who know where their seafood is coming from, and rewarding more fishermen for sustainable fishing practices.”

Alan Lovewell - Local Catch.

Alan Lovewell entered Fish 2.0 with a small business that benefitted both local fishing communities and the environment. Like many social enterprises, Alan’s business was doing great things locally, but without further growth, the scale of its environmental and social impact would remain small.  Through the Fish 2.0 competition, Alan was paired with expert advisors who helped him improve his business plans. Advisors helped his team identify new target markets and plot how to expand his business in a way that both increased its reach and preserved its mission. With the help of Fish 2.0 connections, Alan was able to secure new funding, find new channel partners for distribution, and rapidly grow Local Catch’s market share in Northern California.


Informing Investors 

With early access to new businesses and industry experts, investors learn about the opportunities in fisheries and aquaculture.

“Being an advisor in Fish 2.0 gave me the opportunity to explore potential deals and work with different entrepreneurs without having to commit to a specific investment. It’s given me new insight about how seafood fits into our food and agriculture work, and how we might expand our investments in this sector.” 

Taryn Goodman - RSF Social Finance.

As the Director of Impact Investing at RSF Social Finance, Taryn Goodman manages a Program Related Investing Fund focused on food and agriculture. Coming into Fish 2.0, she had extensive experience working with sustainable agriculture businesses, but less exposure to potential seafood deals. As Taryn advised Fish 2.0 competitors on their business plans, she saw surprising similarities between agriculture and seafood enterprises in terms of potential market channels and distribution challenges. And by digging into the details of wild capture and aquaculture related businesses, she learned more about the seafood supply chain and the diversity of business opportunities therein.  With an increased understanding of the seafood sector, Taryn is now better positioned to find and evaluate seafood investments for RSF Social Finance’s food portfolio.


Identifying Investment Opportunities 

Fish 2.0 selects and pools viable, impact-oriented seafood businesses for investors to consider for investment.

“I saw more seafood businesses in one day of the Fish 2.0 finals than I typically see in a year."

Aaron Enz - Watershed Capital Group.

 

“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.

Aaron Enz of Watershed Capital and Mitchell Lench of Treetops Capital both came to Fish 2.0 with an interest in sustainable seafood. However, like other impact investors and investment advisors, they need a robust, steady stream of investment options to reduce risk in their portfolios and make it worthwhile for them to add seafood investments or to advise their clients to do so. Because there are too few fisheries and aquaculture proposals that meet their criteria for sound investment, it has been difficult for them to get involved in the sector. The Fish 2.0 competition helped them do the legwork to engage: the competition pooled seafood businesses from around the world and selected the top competitors to pitch to investors. In addition, through Fish 2.0, they met a range of seafood industry experts who can help them with due diligence challenges as they continue to explore the seafood sector..


Aligning Business Value and Impact

Competitors identify and expand how their businesses’ environmental and social impacts contribute to competitive advantage in the marketplace.

“Empowering Native Hawaiian communities is what drives our work. Until Fish 2.0, however, we didn’t realize that this core value is also a business advantage.”

David Walfish - Ho'oulu Pacific.

 

Hoʻoulu Pacific addresses nutrition-related health disparities (e.g., obesity and diabetes) prevalent in low-income communities by providing aquaponics systems that enable families to grow fish and vegetables in their backyards. Families use the systems to produce healthy food to eat and surplus to sell for increased household income. The Fish 2.0 process helped Dave and his team calculate the additional income their systems generate for local families, a tangible figure the team can use to bring in more customers and measure benefits for the community. Fish 2.0 also helped the team to recognize that their connections to the community are a key element of their marketing strategy – both in terms of placing systems in homes, as well as in selling the vegetables and fish to community markets and restaurants that value local branding. They can now articulate the competitive advantage of their community ties and are making plans to replicate these connections as they expand their business to new areas.


Preparing Businesses to Approach Investors

Seafood entrepreneurs learn how to find the right investors, improve their business models, and pitch their work to attract investors.

 "I come from a non-profit, academic background - I didn't know much about what investors where looking for in a social enterprise.  Now I understand what investors need to see and how to communicate SmartFish’s value proposition.  It’s working: we've had lots of interest and have actually had to turn investors away." 

Hoyt Peckham - SmartFish.

Hoyt Peckham entered Fish 2.0 as a successful ecologist and non-profit leader, but without any business training. Through the Fish 2.0 application process, Hoyt and his team developed a strong business plan for SmartFish and learned how to explain their work in ways that resonate with investors. In particular, he was able to quantify his environmental and social benefits for impact investors and work toward a stronger marketing strategy. Because of Fish 2.0, Hoyt is now investing more of his own time in financial planning and is focusing on expanding SmartFish regionally so that it has broader social and environmental benefits.


Connecting Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Sector Experts

Fish 2.0 seeds cross-sector relationships that generate business growth and innovation long after the competition ends. 

 “It’s all about networking. Chicago is turning out to be a dream market for us. This would not have been possible without the Fish 2.0 experience.”

Dane Chauvel - Organic Ocean.

 

Dane Chauvel heads Organic Ocean, a fishermen-led business that provides high quality, sustainably caught fish to seafood restaurants and retailers. After Dane’s presentation as a finalist in the Fish 2.0 competition, a legal expert approached him to learn more about Organic Ocean. This new contact introduced Dane to corporate leaders in natural foods who, in turn, helped Dane learn about distribution channels in that arena. A few months later, Dane connected with another Fish 2.0 finalist, Namgis Kuterra, who encouraged him to apply for export funding and attend natural and specialty food trade shows in Chicago and Anaheim. Dane’s new insights into the natural foods market, new export opportunities, and access to new trade shows led to Organic Ocean breaking into Chicago’s high-end culinary scene. This large market is willing to pay for sustainably harvested, premium seafood and is a perfect fit for Organic Ocean’s expansion. 

 

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