John Diener, the CEO of an aquaculture nutrition and genetics company, would visit hundreds of shrimp farms as part of his job. He decided enough was enough and set about building a new model for seafood.
The result was Vertical Oceans, a startup that grows sustainable shrimp in huge “aqua towers”, which can be located inside cities. The towers can incubate shrimp without chemicals or antibiotics, and out of season too.
Coming out of IndieBio, Vertical Oceans has now closed a $3.5 million seed round with Khosla Ventures. This would appear to be the first time a major Silicon Valley fund has invested directly in an aquaculture startup (as far we know). Khosla led the round at $3 million and SOSV followed their pro-rata for the remaining $500,000.
Diener says: “Our product tastes like fresh shrimp from the ocean, and that’s really hard to achieve consistently in a recirculating aquaculture system. Because our product is so fresh, we can sell on par with fresh wild-caught versus farmed frozen shrimp. This higher price more than offsets the costs of going vertical and urban.”
The system is specifically designed to be “location agnostic” vertical farming in urban locations, including cities with cold winters like Chicago. The company is now expanding into a new facility adjacent to downtown Singapore where it will develop its technologies at full scale.
Diener and co-founder Enzo Acerbi previously worked together at an insect protein company where they helped to develop and scale up their technology, and so have experience with scaling agritech.
Read the complete article at www.techcrunch.com.