Sea Warden has just won the Haas Impact Venture Showcase! The seafood certification startup managed to come out on top in a competition against 7 other teams, all of which demonstrated a unique combination of passion, creativity, leadership, subject matter expertise, and business savvy. Startups of the showcase, funded by the AMP impact accelerator, targeted a variety of problems ranging from fake-video detection to large-scale food and plastic waste reduction.

While half of all seafood is farmed, very few producers are certified as sustainable. Sea Warden’s goal is to reduce the cost and complexity of certification, allowing more producers to enter more profitable markets while increasing sustainability and transparency of this major sector of the seafood industry.

Last time we checked in with Sea Warden, they just had come in a close 2nd in the bi-annual BMoE boot camp and were undeterred in their goal to become the ubiquitous seafood certification process across the globe. Now, they have progressed further in their goal and have a bit of a story to share.

Here we gave founder Zack Dinh the chance to reflect on the recent successes of Sea Warden as well as the future of the company.

Sea Warden team doing a collaboration exercise

Congratulations to the team! How do you feel about winning the competition?

“It feels really great to be recognized for all the hard work we have put in! The Amp Social Impact Accelerator was wonderfully run, and we learned and grew a lot this semester. We are very honored by the win because every team in our cohort put in a lot of effort towards their cutting-edge ideas. We’re also grateful for everyone that has helped us along the way.”

What do you think set your team aside from the others?

“Since the beginning, I wanted Sea Warden to be a marine conservation effort with a focus on empowering those who work hard to grow our seafood. Having this core value made it difficult to pivot radically when we got stuck. Instead it forced us to do a lot of research to clearly understand the industry and its issues.” 

Do you plan to continue this venture? If so, what are the next steps?

“This summer we expect to conduct testing of the remote auditing approach in partnership with a major seafood certification program. Testing would start in the Mediterranean Sea where there is significant fish farming activity that could benefit from remote auditing. We’re also applying to an aquaculture-specific accelerator based in Hawaii.”

What has changed since the last article we wrote about Sea Warden?

“Continuing with the concept we developed in BMOE, we further refined our business strategy with the guidance of our Amp mentors and partners. We spent a lot of time researching the issues within the industry and conducting interviews. It was time-intensive, but once we started hearing the same thing from many different people, we knew we were on the right track. 

“We also completed a major milestone: detection and monitoring of all fish farms in Greece using satellite imagery. Greece is one of the largest producers in the Mediterranean, and proving the satellite imaging approach here was a major milestone towards our goal of providing continuous monitoring of every marine aquaculture operation in the world.”

Are you looking for any talent to join your team? 

“Yes we are! We are in need of another engineer to help us develop a mobile app that farmers would use to upload images and videos to help us verify things we can’t by satellite, and a data scientist interested in marine food production to help us derive insights that will help ocean farmers operate more sustainably.”

Any advice for other student entrepreneurs?

“Don’t be afraid to put yourself and your idea out for others to see. If enough people think it’s not a great idea, you’ll come up with a new one. You’ll learn what you don’t know, and you’ll know where you need to improve. If your idea is good, others will join you. You’ll make a lot of mistakes, but you’ll learn from them. We’ve applied to a lot of different opportunities and have been rejected, but each application has been a great moment of reflection that has helped us to refine who and what we are.”

We’re wishing the absolute best to Sea Warden in their goals to revolutionize the seafood market! Stay up to date with the company via the official Sea Warden website. For more information about Sea Warden, contact zack_dinh@berkeley.edu.


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