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!”
Just 40 companies remain in the US-based Fish 2.0 sustainable seafood competition and will pitch to investors, Nov. 7-8, at Stanford University, California, the organizers announced Tuesday.
“This is the strongest group ever,” said Monica Jain, the founder and executive director of the every-other-year competition, which started this time with 184 initial competitors and had been narrowed to 70 before the latest elimination round.
Among the remaining finalists are VakSea, a Baltimore, Maryland-based company that has come up with a new way to deliver vaccines to fish, and OneForNeptune, a company with offices in California and New Mexico that’s making jerky out of white fish offcuts. Undercurrent News took a look at both companies in an article last month.
FORTY companies have been named as finalists in this year’s Fish 2.0 competition, which aims to connect seafood businesses with investors.
The finalists, selected from 184 entries, have been selected for their market traction, global character and high potential for impact on the seafood sector, said the competition organisers.
They will now have the opportunity to pitch to investors during the Nov. 7–8 during the Fish 2.0 Innovation Forum at Stanford University from November 7-8, after which winners will be announced.
"This is the strongest group ever," said Monica Jain, Fish 2.0 founder and executive director. The level of innovation is potentially both system changing and very profitable.
"The finalists—winnowed from an initial pool of 184 entrants—stand out for their "market traction, global character and high potential for impact on the seafood sector."
Fish 2.0 on Monday released the names of 40 companies that will pitch their ideas to investors Nov. 7–8 during the Fish 2.0 Innovation Forum at Stanford University, the culminating event in the Fish 2.0 2017 competition for sustainable seafood businesses.
The finalists—winnowed from an initial pool of 184 entrants—stand out for their "market traction, global character and high potential for impact on the seafood sector," the group said. About 50 percent of the finalists are post-revenue businesses, and more than half are based outside the United States.
Congressman Seth Moulton, D-Salem, has been a strong advocate for the North Shore and New England fishermen whose bottom lines he says are hurt by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's imposed catch limits on them.
Federal catch-limit regulations, he argues, are burdensome and often put in place based on outdated data that doesn't actually comport with what's happening with fish stocks, given migration patterns and ocean currents, among other changing variables from year to year. The result has spawned a longtime bitter battle between NOAA and fishermen.
"The reality is the fishermen very strictly have to follow NOAA's estimates when the fishery has been all over the map," said Moulton. "Some years have been abundant while others not so much."
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Three-day program in Boston area provides business-building advice and training, plus a head start on applying for the global Fish 2.0 competition; workshop applications are due Jan.
Fish 2.0 will hold a free three-day business development workshop for New England seafood businesses at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts, Feb. 6–8, 2017. Participants will learn how to communicate about their business in a way that attracts interest, practice pitching to investors and buyers, and get advice on integrating social and environmental sustainability into their business strategy. The one-page workshop application, available at http://www.fish20.org/newenglandtrack, is due by Jan. 6.