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.