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Rooser raises $23 million for its seafood trading platform – TechCrunch

The global fishing market was worth $253 billion in 2021, and despite the controversy surrounding the industry, that figure continues to grow. Today, a startup that has built a platform to make the fishing business more efficient — and therefore the overall process more traceable and less prone to waste — is announcing a round of funding to ride that wave. Rooser, which provides a marketplace for fish supplies for both those who fish and those who buy for wholesale, trade or retail, raised $23 million – funding that it will use both to expand into more markets and to continue integrating more features into its Platform.

Today, the company focuses on inventory management, providing tools to help suppliers manage this, as well as manage and track sales and gauge the wider market for their products. Soon, the plan will be to integrate more tools for quality control, supply chain finance, customization for buyers and sellers to connect more likely exchanges; and further down the line, the startup will also bring more business intelligence and analytics into the mix for its clients.

It currently has some 45 “species” for sale totaling over 71,000 kilograms but does not disclose specific customer numbers other than that it has over 300 active users and has enabled some 50,000 transactions to date ( its business model is to take a commission on each transaction).

Index Ventures is leading this round, also with participation from GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Point Nine Capital, as well as Figma CEO and co-founder Dylan Field and startup co-founder and CEO David Nothacker. Prior to this Series A, Point Nine and Eos Advisory – a Scottish firm based in St Andrews – had funded Edinburgh-based Rooser with just over $3 million, bringing the total raised to around $26 million. The valuation is not disclosed.

The crux of the problem Rooser aims to solve is that fishing is a huge and growing industry, but it was built on the back of major inefficiencies – inefficiencies that have proven time and time again disastrous for more than just business. , but for broader economic and ecological ecosystems.

Joel Watt – the CEO who co-founded the company with commercial director Nicolas Desormeaux, chief operating officer Erez Mathan and technical director Thomas Quiroga – witnessed this when he ran his own fishing business.

Originally trained as an accountant, Watt hails from the north of Scotland (with an accent that my American ear sometimes struggles to penetrate), and after years working for a large corporation, he has returned to his roots. and to his hometown to start a fishing business. – not a tech-based market and budding big data analytics game, but a real fishing operation on wet floors, cold rooms and yellow boots following in the footsteps of his family, his father and grandfather having also worked in fishing.

In nearly 10 years in business, he grew this business to 50 people and £10m in turnover, “and that’s when we started to see how inefficient it was “, did he declare. The biggest problem for fishing companies, he said, is uncertainty.

“You have the boats and the fisheries, those who turn the produce into things you can eat, the wholesalers and the distributors, and then the restaurants and the fishmongers. All of these require individual communication, but there are actually many players and many prices,” he said. The market is huge – 140,000 linked business entities in Europe alone – but typically those working without relying on a platform to access wider customer bases and manage those relationships can only manage 20 contracts. at a time, no matter how much fish they have to sell.

As far as fish for sale is concerned, this is also a problem. There are 250 types of fish typically sold in the fishing trade, but when you add the size range and other variables, it comes to what Watt said is 35,000 SKUs, and there’s little consistency in the prices through this landscape. “Nobody knows how much something costs.”

Add to that the many layers of people in the chain and the steps they each manage, and the delays that result in what is a highly perishable product, and you have a complicated situation. For every two fish or other seafood taken out of the water, only one is eaten.

So Watt did what any accountant getting into building and running a fishing business might do: he started looking into software that could help manage the business aspects of his operation. Rooser is a Doric dialect word used in the Watt region of Scotland, and it means “watering can”.

“A crew member at my fishing company made a comment about how we always seemed to be fighting a fire somewhere,” Watt said. The idea is that Rooser, the software, will now help fight these fires. Indeed, this software, called Sea.Store, was effective and others also started asking to use it.

Shoppers on the platform can source seafood from 13 different countries, although Iceland, Watt said, is currently the biggest sourcing country. As for buyers, France currently accounts for 95% of all sales.

France is indeed a very large market for seafood products, but it is not the only one. The booster as lead buyer was intentional on Rooser’s part, he said.

We wanted to adapt to a market and then develop a supply side,” he said. “Now we can easily move to other countries as we expand across Europe.”

Georgia Stevenson, the Index partner who led the investment, said part of the interest in Index here is how successful Rooser has been so far in meeting the needs of this particular vertical and creating a market to meet them.

“It helps reduce waste, but it also allows seafood traders to do their job better,” she said. And while there have been many critics lambasting the fishing industry for overstepping its boundaries, depleting stocks; and similarly the industry itself seems to be getting more and more bureaucratic, Stevenson said she thinks Rooser has solved both of these problems. “We have invested in categories and infrastructure to be more sustainable and we consider Rooser to be consistent with that.”