April 9, 2015, Wiscasset, Maine – New England fisheries and aquaculture businesses are invited to apply to participate in Fish 2.0, an innovativebusiness competition designed to advance sustainable seafood businesses and connect them with investors. Maine-based Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) is a sponsor of the competition, which gives seafood businesses an opportunity to gain visibility, find strategic partners and, ultimately, garner new investments in the range of $100,000 to over $10 million. Investors gain early access to new deals and learn how sustainable seafood can help build their portfolios. The deadline for businesses to sign up for the competition is April 27. Businesses can apply at www.fish20.org.
In this year’s competition, businesses from around the world will vie for over $180,000 in cash and service prizes, along with direct connections to industry leaders. During the competition finals at Stanford University in November, 36 finalists will present their ideas to investors. Fish 2.0 is open to both established companies and early-stage enterprises, and there is no fee to enter. Maine’s Acadia Harvest was a runner-up in the Fish 2.0 finals last year.
“CEI has a 35-year history of investing in fisheries and aquaculture, and we’ve seen both financial and impact performance from these deals,” says Dick Clime CEI’s Working Waterfront Project Developer, who served as a competition advisor last year. “Fish 2.0 draws a large number of new, quality businesses to the attention of investors, and also enables them to develop their business plans and access needed capital.”
This year, more than 15 corporate industry leaders, investors and philanthropists, including CEI, Pentair, Google Oceans Program and RSF Social Finance, have joined together to support the Fish 2.0 competition. The breadth of sponsors reflects a growing interest in the seafood sector among investors with expertise in technology, supply chain operations and food systems.
“Investors see rising demand for sustainable seafood products and an industry that is ripe for innovation,” says Monica Jain, Fish 2.0 founder. “Many in the seafood sector see these opportunities, too. They have plans to grow their businesses and reach new markets—but they struggle to identify the right investors. Fish 2.0 connects these groups.”
Investors come to Fish 2.0 with a variety of interests, ranging from supply chain logistics to community development. (They may sign up as competition advisors and judges via www.fish20.org.)
“Fish 2.0 is the best thing I’ve ever done in the context of my business,” says Dane Chauvel of Organic Ocean Seafood, a 2013 competition finalist. “We exceeded revenue projections by 10 percent last year and are on track to realize a 30 percent year-over-year increase in revenue this year. This wouldn’t have happened in the absence of Fish 2.0—it accelerated our path and provided a networking opportunity that we never would have gained otherwise.”
“We believe sustainable aquaculture will play a big role in the future of food production globally,” says Todd Gleason, senior vice president of growth for Pentair, a global company with $7 billion in revenue that is also a sponsor. “We’re excited to support the growth of innovation in the sector.”
During the 2013 competition, 160 businesses applied and 21 finalists presented to a room of over 100 investors. Many of these companies report great growth in the past year.
As Jain explains, “In 2013, we were simply showing people that there were great business opportunities in sustainable seafood; now we’re showing people the breadth and depth of the sector—we’re excited for more businesses and investors to join us in 2015.”
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), one of the nation’s premier Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), specializes in rural business development and financing. Founded in 1977 in Wiscasset, Maine, CEI creates economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential. CEI provides financing and technical assistance to small and medium-sized businesses, natural resource-based industries including the farm, fish and forest sectors, community facilities, renewable energy, commercial real estate and affordable housing. CEI serves communities in Maine, New England, and rural regions throughout the U.S. Find out more at www.ceimaine.org.