Aussie ‘Amazon for fish’ startup ShoreTrade has secured $8 million in fresh funding, as it gears up to turn global fish markets on their head.
Founded by restaurateur and fishmonger Peter Manettas, the startup saw 1,200% revenue growth between 2019 and 2020, and with COVID-19 and trade tensions with China causing continued disruptions in the market, the opportunity is only getting bigger.
The funding round was led by Investible and Luxem, while Singapore investment manager Vulpes also participated.
Back in 2018, Manettas raised $2 million for his B2C platform, which is designed to cut out some of the many middlemen in the supply chain and deliver produce to the consumer’s door.
Since then, ShoreTrade has expanded to become a B2B platform, allowing fishermen to connect to the buyer they’re targeting, and gain a higher price for their catch.
Now, it’s going further, actually buying up fishing quotas and licenses, to create a whole ecosystem within the platform and “vertically integrate the model from start to finish”, Manettas tells SmartCompany.
“It’s a highly complex platform made very, very simple for fishermen,” he says.
It may sit in a relatively niche area, not necessarily known for its tech adoption, but ShoreTrade is seeing strong growth.
The B2C platform, trading under Peter Manettas Seafood, saw 800% growth, year-on-year for 2020. The ShoreTrade B2B platform saw more than 1,200% revenue growth.
Shaking up the fish market
This is an industry that’s changing for the first time in 80 or 90 years, Manettas notes. His own grandfather was a fisherman when he was a child, and today, many of the operators are working in the exact same way he was.
He’s striving to help people in the trade adapt to a new, tech-enabled way of doing things, and to ensure their own businesses are viable long-term.
“The world is changing, this is now going to become the new normal,” he says.
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the devastating effect on supply chains and the hospitality industry, has only accelerated a shift towards tech. The shake-up has also meant people are more willing to embrace new ideas, and more receptive to tech solutions.
Still, from Manettas’ point of view, “the market hasn’t weakened too much … the market has shifted”.
The companies that had a robust supply chain model have done well out of the pandemic, he argues, as have those who were able to shift from B2B to B2C relatively easily.
Similarly, when trade tensions put a halt to lobster imports into China, some suppliers were badly hurt.
“We need to ask ourselves as a country: Why do we have all our eggs in that basket?” Manettas says.
“Why are we not looking to move our product into other areas and create a more robust network?”
Now there’s suddenly demand from suppliers to diversify their paths to market, which has been good news for ShoreTrade.
ShoreTrade’s new funding will fuel international expansion, with a focus on China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand and the UK.
Already, there has been interest from overseas, Manettas says, and he’s found international industry players to be more receptive than the locals.
“They’re much more ahead of the game,” he notes.
At the same time, the cash will allow the team to build out some new functionalities into the tech, including data analysis and new features.
For example, the team is working on a feature that will show fishermen if too many of a certain species have been caught to meet demand, and to allow customers to make requests and then negotiate prices.