You’d be hard-pressed to find a marketplace more analog than fishermen selling seafood straight from the dock at the crack of dawn. Coastline Market sees that as a big opportunity.
The Vancouver, B.C. startup has developed a digital marketplace that connects restaurants and retailers with local fishing operations. The platform allows customers to place and track orders, pay online, and find out where and how their seafood was harvested.
Coastline CEO Robert Kirstiuk got the idea after watching dock workers sell the day’s catch. He started asking more questions about the industry and quickly realized he could make the process more efficient using technology.
Twenty-five restaurants and six fishing boats in Vancouver already use Coastline’s platform. The startup is currently working through the Techstars Seattle 2017 class.
We caught up with Kirstiuk for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We connect restaurants and retailers to local commercial fishermen. We help eliminate middlemen with our online platform.”
Inspiration hit us when: “I was visiting family in New Brunswick, Canada when I wondered why some fishermen preferred to sell direct off the dock instead of selling directly in the city. This opened up a whole new set of questions and thinking about the fishing industry for us.
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “VC and Angel. With the advent of accessible technology in the fishing industry, we have a unique opportunity to move quickly and build a defensible model through network effects. Growth funding from VCs and Angels provides us with the best opportunity to grow to critical mass and establish a global presence in the shortest timeframe possible.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Unlike traditional wholesalers, we utilize a just-in-time system to eliminate the need for cold storage or warehousing. This radically reduces the environmental and capital cost of preserving seafood, while providing clarity and transparency throughout the supply chain.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Moving to Seattle to accelerate our company through Techstars.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We hastily built our initial prototype without customer feedback, and ended up delivering a narrow-sighted solution with poor product-market fit. In the end, we had to discard the old codebase and start from scratch.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Gates. His unique mix of intelligence, philanthropy, and results-driven attitude really resonates with our core values as a company.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “Eating! Everyone on our team is a self-proclaimed Foodie.”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Cultural alignment. As a company, we’re focused on hiring people that live and breathe our anchor values. We care about getting the right people on our boat; not putting them in the perfect seat. Technical aptitude and expertise is something that can be learned over time – alignment is not.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Never underestimate the inertia of large corporations. The biggest reason why ideas never become reality is because of the prevailing notion that someone out there with more resources, information or expertise must have thought about/executed on the opportunity.”