There’s an ocean of opportunity for startups targeting the seafood industry – gpgmail

Seafood has blown past its iceberg lettuce stage and entered trendy greens territory, with eaters loading up on oceanic superfoods and falling in love with previously unknown species as fast as daters swipe right. Even inland-dwelling locavores can easily satisfy their seafood cravings. What once was waste is now a premium snack, or maybe a wallet. We get that farmed fish is good—in every sense of that word. Mystery fish are a thing of the past. Sustainability is a minimum standard, not a luxury.

Just two years ago, that’s what I thought the seafood world would look like in 2027. Back then, as I studied trends in consumer desires, seafood sustainability initiatives, technology and investment, I foresaw seven transformative changes happening within a decade.

At the time it seemed like I was surfing the edge of plausibility. But based on what I’ve learned from the 200 or so seafood innovators entering the Fish 2.0 network over this past year, it’s all happening—in many cases much faster than I expected. And it’s happening all over the world.

So what does the future of seafood look like today?

Our palates are getting schooled

I predicted more diverse seafood diets, and while lionfish is not (yet) the new kale, don’t be surprised to see it sitting atop a Caesar salad in a few years.

People are looking beyond the shrimp-salmon-tuna triumvirate and learning to love the less familiar. Barramundi and cobia are going mainstream in some markets. Sustainable seafood purveyors are turning species that used to get thrown away into high-end treats, and celebrity chefs are buying invasive species (like that lionfish) and overlooked delicacies (like scampi caviar). At the same time, it’s getting easier to grow healthful, great-tasting salmon and other popular species in land-based farms, thanks to better feeds, disease prevention and production systems.

It looks like we really will stop loving our favorite wild fish to death and become more adventurous seafood eaters.

Fish and boat, Saint Louis, Senegal, West Africa, Africa (Photo: Godong / robertharding/Getty Images)

We’re buying direct

Local seafood still isn’t easy to come by for many of us, but options for buying direct from fishers—near or far—are proliferating. The number of community-supported fisheries (seafood’s take on the farm-to-table model) on Local Catch has quadrupled since 2017, and some fishers are looking to copy Seattle’s Pike’s Place fish market model. Even more are selling direct to restaurants and fishmongers in their home markets and overseas.

Fishers are finding that quality and diversity earn a premium. By selling boat- or farm-fresh seafood direct to chefs and market owners, they can earn three to six times the price distributors pay. And mobile apps are making it fast and easy for those who provide top-notch seafood to connect with those who want it. This trend is likely to grow as food packaging and preservation technologies continue to improve, making shipping cheaper. Big picture: sustainable seafood is reaching a broader market than ever, at prices that reflect its value.

Mystery fish are so yesterday

So many startups are working on traceability and transparency challenges that there’s little doubt we’ll soon know who caught a fish, where they caught it, how cold they kept it and more. Mystery fish is well on its way to no longer being a thing, at least in regions where regulations are enforced.

The rise of seatech is speeding efforts to clear up seafood’s notoriously murky supply chain. Sensors, robotics, networked cameras and other technologies that operate in and out of the water are helping fishers and farmers collect and analyze real-time data, so they can catch and grow seafood in the best possible way. Labor practices are getting a dose of daylight too.

The questions today are not about whether we can collect essential data, but about who owns the data, how public it should be and which datasets are most important. This is a huge leap forward.

Courtesy of Mikael Damkier/Shutterstock

Fish feed solutions accelerate

Right now, most farmed fish eat food made from wild forage fish. That’s not sustainable, which is why two years ago we were thrilled by the mere existence of alternative fish feed ingredients. Now more sophisticated thinking about the problem is fueling surprisingly fast progress.

Today it’s all about optimizing and scaling production. Many companies are turning black soldier flies into fish feed, and now they’re working on genetics that make flies richer in omega 3s and function better as feeds. Others have turned algae, grains and even industrial methane emissions into nutritious fish feed ingredients, and they’re figuring out the best mix of ingredients to grow each species.

This confluence of creative thinking means the fish feed problem is likely to get solved sooner than we thought possible, and make an even bigger impact on the aquaculture industry.

Farmed fish are big—and that’s a good thing

Speaking of aquaculture, I said farmed fish would fill out more of our seafood plate, and they are. Aquaculture is growing at a clip of 5.8 percent a year and accounts for more than half the fish we eat.

Not all farmed fish are raised right, but they can be. Solutions to aquaculture’s sustainability challenges are heading to market. In addition to the fish feed problem, innovators are working on escape-proof ocean farms, resource-efficient land farms, natural remedies for healthier fish, capturing and upcycling fish farm waste, and more productive hatcheries. This is all good—we need sustainable fish farming to take the pressure off wild fisheries and meet global demand for clean protein.

Photo courtesy of GettyImages/Johanna Parkin

There’s a war on waste

Turning waste into value was a niche in 2017. Now it’s one part of a broader campaign to crack down on waste at every point in the seafood supply chain. Does throwing out heads, tails and bones really make sense? Increasingly, the answer is no. New processing and preservation technologies allow higher yield from each fish, and people are taking a fresh look at “trash.”

Fish jerky from California whitefish offcuts is making a splash, as are bone broths made from seafood. In Australia, new products like scampi caviar, honey bugs and GT shrimp (named by Aussies after the car)—all recently discarded as bycatch—are yielding higher profits than the traditional deep-water scampi catch. The challenge now shifts from reducing waste in these supply chains to making sure the full fisheries remain sustainable.

Sustainability is the table stake

Over 90 percent of large-scale, U.S.-based seafood buyers have committed to selling only sustainable products. They’re trying to pluck the junk from their supply chains—and they have plenty of work yet to do—so there’s no way they’re buying something new that’s not sustainable. And the seafood itself is just the start of the conversation. Buyers want to know what a supplier is doing about labor, packaging and resource use, and new products must beat the status quo to gain space on shelves and screens. Introducing an unsustainable seafood product to today’s marketplace would be like introducing a petroleum-powered Hummer to the current car market. We can’t claim victory on sustainability yet, but the tide truly has turned.

Change goes deeper and faster

What most surprises me about all this progress is not just how fast it’s happening, but how people are redefining the problems. Instead of simply creating different fish feeds, innovators are asking how we can cut the amount of feed needed to grow each fish, make feeds more nutritious and breed fish that are light eaters or thrive on vegetarian diets. Instead of wondering whether aquaculture can advance, they’re working on clearing bottlenecks around hatcheries, disease and genetics. Packaging waste was barely on the seafood world’s radar two years ago; now it’s a prime target.

This has a lot to do with the sheer number of talented entrepreneurs and investors entering the seafood sector. The more ideas and technologies we put in play, the more hits we’re going to have. It also has to do with connections. I’m struck by how eager people are to work together regionally and across oceans and borders, once they get out of their caves and meet each other. The entrepreneurs participating in Fish 2.0 are as interested in partnerships with other businesses as they are in investment. As these personal networks pull together pieces of innovation bubbling up around the world and more investors jump into the pool, the pace of change in seafood has moved from a simmer to a rolling boil.

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Ready, Set, Raise — the Y Combinator for female founders — announces second cohort – gpgmail

About one-fourth of the startups in Y Combinator’s summer batch had a female founder. Not the most disappointing statistic if you consider this: Companies with at least one female founder have raised only about 11% of venture capital funding in the U.S. in 2019, according to PitchBook. Companies with female founders exclusively have raised just 3%.

There is so much room for improvement.

To close the funding gap, programs tailored to female entrepreneurs are working tirelessly to mentor and incubate upstarts in hopes of impressing venture capitalists. Ready, Set, Raise, an accelerator program built for women, by women, is amongst the new efforts to help female and non-binary founders raise more dollars, or, at the very least, build relationships with investors.

The accelerator program, created by the Seattle-based network of startup founders and investors called the Female Founders Alliance, is today announcing its second batch of companies, a group that includes a sextech business, an AI-powered tool for podcasters and a line of workwear created for women who work on farms, construction sites and factory floors.

Ready, Set, Raise has partnered with Microsoft for Startups to provide entrepreneurs $120,000 in Azure credits, as well as technical and business mentoring from executives of the Redmond-based software giant. Other new partners include Brex and Carta, two well-funded companies that plan to lend the support of their executives to teach entrepreneurs about startup finance, valuation and fundraising terms. 

“Both FFA and Microsoft recognize a major lapse in opportunities given to women and non-binary founders,” writes Ian Bergman, a managing director of Microsoft for Startups, in a statement. “We look forward to our continued work together to promote this necessary shift in the VC landscape.”

FFA’s founder and chief executive officer Leslie Feinzaig, who launched the organization in 2017, has been an outspoken advocate of diversity in entrepreneurship and venture capital, and well as providing awareness and resources for founders who are also parents.

“My experience fundraising was undeniably shaped by the fact that I am a woman, and at the time was a new mom,” Feinzaig, who previously founded an edtech startup, told Seattle Business Magazine earlier this year. “A year later, I was about to give up. Instead, I started a Facebook group, including all of the founders and tech startup leaders I knew. It was the group that I needed, made up of people who knew exactly what I was going through. That’s how the Female Founders Alliance was born.”

FFA’s Ready, Set, Raise provides its companies childcare throughout the six-week program, in which companies work one-on-one with experienced coaches ahead of a demo day that will take place on October 16th. 

Here’s a look at Ready, Set, Raise’s sophomore class of startups:

  • Echo Echo: AI-powered tools for podcasters.
  • Give InKind: Coordinates support through major life events.
  • Honistly: A provider of extended auto warranties to help with short-term cash needs.
  • Juicebox It: Modernizes erotica with a chatbot that is arousing and educational. 
  • Panty Drop: A personalized intimates shopping experience for women sizes XS-6XL.  
  • The Labz: A platform that protects and memorializes creative content development in real time.
  • Tougher: Functional, well-fitted workwear for women in the skilled trades. 

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On-demand parking startup SpotHero raises $50 million – gpgmail

SpotHero, the Chicago-based company that has developed an on-demand parking app, has raised $50 million in a Series D round led by Macquarie Capital.

Union Grove Venture Partners participated in the round, along with existing investors including Insight Venture Partners, Global Founders Capital, OCA Ventures, AutoTech Ventures and others, according to the company. SpotHero has raised $118 million to date.

SpotHero said Thursday that this new capital will be used to grow into new markets and expand in its existing ones, build out its digital platform and strengthen partnerships with mobility companies.

SpotHero, which has operations in San Francisco, New York, Washington, D.C. and Seattle, initially set out to develop software that connects everyday drivers to parking spots in thousands of garages across North America.

SpotHero has expanded its focus in the eight years since its founding. The company has added other services as urban density has increased and on-street parking has become more jumbled and confused thanks to an increase in traffic, ride-hailing and on-demand delivery services that take up valuable curb space. It has locked in more than 900 distribution partnerships and integrations including Google Assistant, for voice-enabled parking and Waze in-app navigation to parking. Other partners include Hertz and car2go for fleet parking, WeWork, for commuter parking and Moovit, for multi-modal parking.

Most recently, SpotHero launched a new service dubbed “SpotHero for Fleets” that targets shared mobility and on-demand services.

The service aims to be a one-stop shop for car-sharing and commercial fleets to handle all that goes into ensuring there is access and the right number of designated parking areas on any given day within SpotHero’s large network of 6,500 garages across 300 cities. That means everything from managing the relationships between garage owners and the fleet companies to proper signage so car-sharing customers can find the vehicles, as well as flexible plans that account for seasonal demands on businesses.

Under the new service, customers are able to source and secure parking inventory in high-traffic areas across multiple cities and pay per use across multiple parking facilities on one invoice to streamline payments. 

The company has signed on car-sharing companies and other commercial fleets, although it’s not naming them yet.

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Domino’s launches e-bike delivery to compete with UberEats, DoorDash – gpgmail

Domino’s will start using custom electric bikes for pizza delivery through a partnership with Rad Power Bikes, as it aims to become more competitive with on-demand apps like DoorDash, GrubHub and UberEats.

Hundreds of e-bikes will be deployed across corporate-owned stores later this year in Baltimore, Houston, Miami and Salt Lake City, the company said Tuesday.

The e-bike announcement comes as Domino’s, which specializes in pizza, faces increasing competition from on-demand delivery apps like UberEats that offer customers far more choice. Domino’s could never offer enough menu options to compete with DoorDash or UberEats, but it can compete on service and delivery times.

The e-bikes are part of that plan. The company has also partnered with companies like Ford to test pizza delivery using autonomous vehicles. Earlier this summer, it launched a new pilot for self-driving pizza delivery in Houston in partnership with Nuro. Domino’s will use Nuro’s R2 vehicle, its second-generation autonomous electric test car, which will go into service later this year.

The e-bikes supplied by Rad Power Bikes are equipped with small integrated motors to assist with pedaling, and can run for 25 to 40 miles, depending on the user, before needing a recharge, according to the company. The bikes are equipped with lights in the front and back, reflective materials for driver safety and have a top assisted speed of 20 miles per hour.

Importantly, the e-bikes have been customized to hold pizza, drinks and sides. One e-bike can hold up to 12 large pizzas.

The company tested the e-bikes and discovered that service and delivery times improved, Tom Curtis, Domino’s executive vice president of corporate operations, said in the announcement. The e-bikes also opened up the labor pool for the company, allowing it to tap into candidates who might not have a car or driver’s license.

Some franchisee owners were already using e-bikes and found they are essential in hilly urban areas.

“While delivery on a traditional bike solved many of our traffic and parking issues, the hills in Seattle were tough on even our best cyclists,” Greg Keller, Seattle Domino’s franchisee said in a press release announcing the e-bike program. “E-bikes were a game-changer for us, and we’ve been delivering with them for three years now. We have been able to save money, provide better service, increase hiring and maintain a happy workforce.”

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Capital One’s breach was inevitable, because we did nothing after Equifax – gpgmail

Another day, another massive data breach.

This time it’s the financial giant and credit card issuer Capital One, which revealed on Monday a credit file breach affecting 100 million Americans and 6 million Canadians. Consumers and small businesses affected are those who obtained one of the company’s credit cards dating back to 2005.

That includes names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, self-reported income and more credit card application data — including over 140,000 Social Security numbers in the U.S., and more than a million in Canada.

The FBI already has a suspect in custody. Seattle resident and software developer Paige A. Thompson, 33, was arrested and detained pending trial. She’s been accused of stealing data by breaching a web application firewall, which was supposed to protect it.

Sound familiar? It should. Just last week, credit rating giant Equifax settled for more than $575 million over a date breach it had — and hid from the public for several months — two years prior.

Why should we be surprised? Equifax faced zero fallout until its eventual fine. All talk, much bluster, but otherwise little action.

Equifax’s chief executive Richard Smith “retired” before he was fired, allowing him to keep his substantial pension packet. Lawmakers grilled the company but nothing happened. An investigation launched by the former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the governmental body responsible for protecting consumers from fraud, declined to pursue the company. The FTC took its sweet time to issue its fine — which amounted to about 20% of the company’s annual revenue for 2018. For one of the most damaging breaches to the U.S. population since the breach of classified vetting files at the Office of Personnel Management in 2015, Equifax got off lightly.

Legislatively, nothing has changed. Equifax remains as much of a “victim” in the eyes of the law as it was before — technically, but much to the ire of the millions affected who were forced to freeze their credit as a result.

Mark Warner, a Democratic senator serving Virginia, along with his colleague since turned presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, was tough on the company, calling for it to do more to protect consumer data. With his colleagues, he called on the credit agencies to face penalties to the top brass and extortionate fines to hold the companies accountable — and to send a message to others that they can’t play fast and loose with our data again.

But Congress didn’t bite. Warner told gpgmail at the time that there was “a failure of the company, but also of lawmakers” for not taking action.

Lo and behold, it happened again. Without a congressional intervention, Capital One is likely to face largely the same rigmarole as Equifax did.

Blame the lawmakers all you want. They had their part to play in this. But fool us twice, shame on the credit companies for not properly taking action in the first place.

The Equifax incident should have sparked a fire under the credit giants. The breach was the canary in the coal mine. We watched and waited to see what would happen as the canary’s lifeless body emerged — but, much to the American public’s chagrin, no action came of it. The companies continued on with the mentality that “it could happen to us, but probably won’t.” It was always going to happen again unless there was something to force the companies to act.

Companies continue to vacuum up our data — knowingly and otherwise — and don’t do enough to protect it. As much as we can have laws to protect consumers from this happening again, these breaches will continue so long as the companies continue to collect our data and not take their data security responsibilities seriously.

We had an opportunity to stop these kinds of breaches from happening again, yet in the two years passed we’ve barely grappled with the basic concepts of internet security. All we have to show for it is a meager fine.

Thompson faces five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Everyone else faces just another major intrusion into their personal lives. Not at the hands of the hacker per se, but the companies that collect our data — with our consent and often without — and take far too many liberties with it.

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