SmartOysters is offering members of the public a chance to buy shares in the company via a Birchal Equity Crowdfunding raise.
Founded by Ewan McAsh, an oyster farmer with 15 years’ experience under his waders, SmartOysters* is a platform which allows oyster farmers to streamline their own unique aquaculture practice. It has users in countries including Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland and the USA.
Despite the impact of the Covid pandemic and flooding, SmartOysters continues to sign up new farms. The capital raised will be used to build the company’s direct sales, customer engagement team and tech teams, as well as deliver better functionality to farmers.
The oyster industry has remained stagnant for nearly 40 years – as tides, barnacles, weather and disease have turned it into an alchemy difficult to teach and even more difficult to scale upwards. The platform allows farms to grow and farm managers to delegate more responsibility to their colleagues.
“Farming is a difficult business, let alone farming underwater,” says McAsh. “After 15 years of farming I had created an environment where I was the only person who truly knew what to do on my oyster lease and when to do it – the location of thousands of oyster baskets, schedules and tasks. All the history, all the best practice, was remembered by one person – me – and this was stopping me from growing my business any further. This is a common challenge faced by most farmers and, up until now, there has been no solution. Now with SmartOysters technology, farmers can capture and share years of knowledge, employ more staff and grow more oysters.”
SmartOysters uses GPS maps and customisable reports to capture the farmer’s unique farm practice. The platform notifies farmers when their next grade is due and keeps track of the exact location of their gear and oysters. Not only does it keep track of every stage in an oyster’s development, it also schedules and assigns tasks for the stock management and maintenance of the oyster lease. The data captured by the farmer can then be used to de-risk farm investment and certify sustainability and provenance.
“Before SmartOysters, we would have to run around on our barges and check every second row for the condition of the oysters,” said Vince Sydall of Moana Oysters in New Zealand. “Now we don’t have to. Now we just punch up the information on our phones and away you go.”
Aquaculture is the fastest-growing form of food production and the source of half the world’s seafood. The Nature Conservancy recently reported aquaculture as a $243 billion global industry, employing more than 20 million people. 90 percent of all aquaculture farms are classed as small scale.
These small, often family-owned, businesses are stewards of the environment they work in and rely on. The majority of these aquaculture farmers do not use software to manage their farms and rely entirely on memory. Current software solutions for the industry are outdated, with complex systems that don’t deliver innovation. Using the SmartOysters app farmers have the ability to become more productive, profitable, supply more sustainable seafood and have a positive impact on the environment.
“The most compelling aspect of SmartOysters is that we are a lot more than just a database system, and most importantly we speak the language of farmers,” adds McAsh. “We use GPS maps because that’s how farmers, including myself, visualise their farms. We focus on operations, because that is what farmers think about every day. Most importantly, this technology will help all farmers get a much better sleep at night!”
*SmartOysters is part of Hatch's portfolio, but The Fish Site retains editorial independence.