Agriculture & foodtech Startups Venture

eFishery’s $108M Raise And Unicorn Status Proves Aquaculture Is Swimming Upstream

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eFishery, an Indonesia-based aquaculture startup, raised $108 million in Series D funding, according to Tech In Asia. The company was valued at $1.3 billion, launching the company into narwhal — uh, unicorn status. 

42xfund, an investment management firm in United Arab Emirates, led the funding round, and additional participation came from Northstar Group and SoftBank Vision Fund 2.

Aquaculture startups had its best funding year ever in 2022 when the sector raised $292 million across 42 startups, according to Crunchbase News. The industry has seen a steady incline in venture funding since 2013, when eFishery launched.

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The company beganin 2013 as a one stop shop for the aquaculture industry in Indonesia. The company started with a programmable fish farm feeder that dispenses food for shrimp farms and quickly developed disease prevention systems for those ecosystems. 

The company has since expanded, providing an end-to-end e-commerce platform that allows fishers to buy niche products and gear and connects farmers with financial institutions that can provide flexible loans geared towards the fickle nature of aquaculture. The company also has a distribution system that makes it easy for homes and businesses to order fish and get it delivered fresh or frozen.

More importantly, eFishery has an online marketplace that allows fishers to sell their yield directly to distributors and agents, often at a fairer price than most markets. 

The environmental impact

That process is generally better for the environment by promoting fair trade wages for fisheries and lowering the carbon footprint of moving the fish product. 

But fish farming has long been considered an unsustainable environmental practice — certain farmed fish need to be fed wild fish to survive. Creating crowded, overpopulated zones of fish is a breeding ground for disease, and the waste they produce in such a small area can pollute the ocean. In Indonesia specifically, fish farms are partly responsible for mangrove deforestation.

Fishing, in general, has a significantly smaller carbon footprint than land animal agriculture (including products like cheese and dairy), and startups are moving into the space to develop more sustainable and scalable practices in one of the oldest jobs in the world.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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