Give someone a fish, you feed them for a day. Give someone reliable access to seafood in a supply-deprived industry, you go on to create a successful B2B marketplace for fish. Take it from Utham Gowda, the founder of Captain Fresh, an investment banker-turned-fisherman, so to speak.
Three years after its birth in 2019, the company has raised $126.5 million in funding at a $500 million valuation. In an industry where the average level of spoilage is 20-30%, Captain Fresh manages to minimize waste in seafood shipments to 2-5%.
It was in 2015, while scouting for viable sectors as an investment banker, that Gowda embarked on an aquatic adventure. He was helping a seafood player become IPO-ready. Some years of diving deep into fisheries revealed a fragmented, underserved industry begging for scientific solutions. There was a clear entrepreneurial opportunity, but few had even touched the space.
Quite frankly, the waters were muddy. There was a combination of problems: High perishability, seasonality, varying tastes by region and so on. Gowda rose to that challenge with a combination of his own: Research, resources, and people.
As an investment banker, he knows the importance of due diligence. As a single founder, he knows the importance of finding the right talent. And as someone who started up a little before COVID-19 hit, he knows the importance of planning and stress-testing.
In this part of a series produced by Accel Partners, Gowda was joined by Barath Shankar Subramanian of Accel, a vegetarian who strongly backs the fish-fuelled business. In July 2021, after many Zoom calls between Subramanian’s and Gowda’s teams, Captain Fresh raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Accel. They talk to Pankaj Mishra, co-founder of digital media publication FactorDaily, about their journey.
Over the past decade and a half, new-age marketplaces in India have transformed how people buy and sell products and services. From Flipkart to Swiggy, Urban Company, and Zetwerk, each has reimagined “the bazaars,” shaping the future of commerce and livelihood in India.
Starting November 3rd, we will share stories from the trenches about building and scaling these marketplaces, along with foundational lessons from their journeys.
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