Going on Shark Tank was quite an experience. It was one of those things that happened so quickly it was a little bit of a whirlwind.
Unfortunately David was out of the country on business in Zimbabwe and Mozambique and so I (William) handled it along with backup support from Nanje, a student doing her MSc in Aquaculture research work on our farm at the time.
You can watch it here:
It was disappointing not to obtain funding but ours is a complex business in a new industry (for South Africa) that we have tried to de-risk as much as we can. I made no bones about the onerous regulatory environment within which we operate and the Sharks picked up on that pretty quickly. It is as we have stated all along, that government is in fat more of a hindrance to aquaculture than a help. We have seen nothing to change our views on this. I should have countered with the fact that a considerable portion of our business is actually conducted outside of SA where the operating environments are more business friendly.
Of course there is risk involved in any business. I got the feeling from the Sharks on set as we were filming day one that they wanted to keep their ammunition dry to pounce on other more well defined opportunities as is their right, and yes we will probably need more money to expand aggressively. It also has to be said that detailing our business within 25 minutes is nigh on impossible and that trying to convey the complex characteristics of what we are trying to do in creating an industry from nothing was hard.
I’d agree with the conclusions that quite possible we’d need more money moving on later down the line but actually I believe we can grow the money we were looking for with organic growth right out of the gate. We’re not a startup any longer, we’re transitioning to sales and production now – the timing could not have been better for us in terms of the Shark Tank.
Looking back it was an overwhelmingly enjoyable exercise to be on TV and to engage. I really hope I didn’t come across as an arse and that the genuine attempts we’re putting together to construct and architect an industry came across. It’s difficult doing what we do and to get other on-growers aboard, to get fish farming to where it needs to be takes energy, time and money. Not getting a Shark on board is quite possibly a blessing in disguise as it does preserve our equity and in our particular business perhaps a Shark would not necessarily have the same impact that it might for a retail or tech product. Our journey is just beginnning.
One question that sits in my mind is what if I had offered the Sharks 10% for R1? Would they have taken it I wonder? Or worked their way up from there?It would have been fascinating to see.
In conclusion, our genuinely sincere thanks to one and all – it was a fabulous opportunity to show case what we do, what the industry is all about and the opportunities that are present in the sector.
If you want to know more about fish farming, it’s all contained on this site or pop us an email and we’ll get back to you. Fish farming may well be a full time career but that doesn’t mean we all didn’t start it somewhere on a small scale to begin with – as entrepreneurs ourselves we urge and encourage you to take the step. Fish farming is fun, challenging and ultimately a quite profitable business that you can build up as slowly or as quickly as your capital and risk appetites allow. We may not be Sharks ourselves, but we are certainly Tilapians that are ready to help you on your way.