Six seafood innovators capped the Fish 2.0 Competition Finals & Sustainable Seafood Innovation Forum in Palo Alto on Wednesday by earning cash prizes and top scores in their categories from the competition’s investor-judges. The winners are bringing to market creative approaches to key challenges in aquaculture, building consumer demand for sustainable seafood, reducing waste and supporting local fishing communities.
In the pre-revenue startup category (Track A), the top-scoring business demonstrating the strongest market potential was Kampachi Farms Mexico, an open ocean aquaculture business focused on growing sashimi-grade fish. The top-scoring business with the greatest potential for social and environmental impact was Nova Scotia–based SabrTech, whose RiverBox system provides algae-based aquaculture feed using waste streams from fish farms.
In the post-revenue early stage category (Track B), two businesses targeting millennials took the cash prizes: Salty Girl Seafood, a California-based packaged seafood company that sells portioned and premarinated sustainable fish, was the top-scoring business demonstrating the strongest market potential. Bureo, a California- and Chile-based venture that upcycles used fishing nets to create high-quality skateboards and sunglasses, was the top-scoring business with the greatest potential for social and environmental impact.
In the growth-stage category (Track C), the judges recognized both of the top-scoring companies as impact leaders: Alaska Community Seafood Hub, which supplies local seafood to Alaskans using a community-supported fishery model and wholesale sales, and ALFA Fishing of Vanuatu, which generates income for rural youth and urban women through supplying fresh seafood to both high-end restaurants and low-income households.
“The sophistication of the businesses here has really improved since the first competition in 2013,” said Margot Kane, vice president, strategy at the Calvert Foundation and a judge on the Tracks B and C panels. “The field is growing, and Fish 2.0 helps entrepreneurs learn to talk about their businesses in a way that grabs investors’ attention. I was particularly impressed by the community-based models and how they’ve advanced, as well as by the transnational models and the businesses that can show impact throughout their supply chain.”
Prizes include $30,000 cash, $195,000 in services
Each winner received a $5,000 cash prize. They and the other 31 businesses competing at the finals are also eligible for Professional Service Awards ($150,000 total, plus an additional $45,000 for Pacific Islands businesses) and Open Door Prizes, which provide unparalleled access to top-level industry buyers and analysts, training and other connections. These prizes will be announced by mid-December.
“This is great recognition,” said Norah Eddy, co-founder of Salty Girl Seafood. “We’re blown away. Our team is really excited. The impact in our track was so impressive, we were honored to be up there with our colleagues.”
For Alfred Kalontas, CEO of ALFA Fishing, “Coming around the world was more than worth it. I founded my business with a mission. I was trying to build up a brand, to build up a team, create transparency and build an ethical business. I was on my own. This helped me mold it, as if in the palm of my hand.”
Mather Carscallen, CEO of SabrTech, said winning meant “acknowledgment by one of the foremost communities in one of the most up-and-coming industries around the globe.”
The 18 finalists and 19 runners-up presenting at the Competition Finals rose to the top from an original pool of 170 applicants. It wasn’t easy—they competed with a group of exceptionally promising entrepreneurs through a rigorous four-phase process that challenged them to sharpen their value propositions, tackle weaknesses and measure their impacts. At least five judges scored each competitor that reached the finals. Panels of investor-judges chose the cash-prize winners based on the finalists’ five-minute pitches and eight-minute question-and-answer sessions.
Audience chooses top runners-up
The runners-up delivered 90-second pitches at the Competition Finals. The audience of investors and seafood experts chose Love the Wild (Colorado) and Pelagic Data Systems (California) in Track A, GrowUp Urban Farms (England) in Track B and Geomar (Chile) in Track C as the businesses in each track that they most wanted to follow up with.
“The companies presenting at Fish 2.0 represent the true diversity of the industry—the scale, the species and the geography,” said Joe Hankins, vice president at The Conservation Fund and a judge on the Track A panel. “There’s an appropriate type of capital for each one, and the brilliance of this competition is that it brings us all together to find the right match.”
About 250 investors, business leaders and seafood experts attended the Finals event at Stanford University. They and the competitors reflected the global reach of the competition: the applicant pool included businesses from the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Japan, the Pacific and Oceania. The group that made it to the Competition Finals was similarly diverse, with 17 businesses based in the U.S. (including two with operations in Chile), six in Canada, four in Latin America, five in the South Pacific, two in Europe and three in Southeast Asia.
“More and more people are recognizing the need for innovation in the sustainable seafood field, and the tremendous opportunities for markets and impacts in the industry,” said Fish 2.0 founder and executive director Monica Jain. “The demand for Fish 2.0 is enormous—it’s limited only by our ability to get the word out. As our network grows, so does the number of investors and businesses that want to collaborate to advance sustainable seafood.”
About Fish 2.0
Fish 2.0 is a business competition that connects sustainable fishing and aquaculture companies with potential investors. Our goal is to grow the number of businesses and investors in the sustainable seafood sector. Competitors improve their business models and learn how to approach investors, while investors gain early access to new deals and learn how sustainable seafood can help build their portfolios. Find out more about the competition process and prizes at www.fish20.org.