Major Milestones & Announcements From Our Startup Showcase
Last month, I had the opportunity to reflect on our first year journey that had taken us from our launch in September 2020 to the middle of our inaugural cohort this year. Just over a month later, we've now concluded our inaugural cohort with our startup showcase, featuring each of our startups' full pitches that included their individual progress during their time with us. If you were one of the over 175 people who joined us in-person at the Frost Science Museum or virtually on Zoom - thank you for your incredible support in our most pivotal moment yet.
Cohort 1 Overall Progress
Measurable impact is critical for both Seaworthy and its startups to demonstrate tangible progress. For our venture studio, it's critical for us to quantify the amount of traction and collaboration we accomplished over a 3 month period. Early on in the cohort, we mapped out the 3 month key performance indicators (KPIs) for each startup, and explored how leveraging our network and resources could help each accomplish their short term goals and objectives, and create additional avenues for growth and support.
With that all being said, the collective accomplishments of our first cohort below are truly something we're incredibly proud of. Additionally, for each statistic with a '+' sign, it means that the metric could increase with more connections that were still in progress and were not counted as part of the data reported.
Altogether, this data has absolutely validated everything we set out to accomplish with our first cohort and more. We have executed on our initial ambitions of proving that Miami and South Florida as a whole could be, and now have been established as, both a BlueTech and ClimateTech hub. We were able to provide various forms of value to the vast majority of our startups, without knowing how all the pieces would fit when we first started the cohort, but knowing all the elements for value were there.
Our Groundbreaking Approach
The approach that we took for our venture studio was novel in a few regards, rooted in design thinking. Notably, we were the first program to co-create BlueTech startups outside of aquaculture with SeaGreen Regeneration and Unboxd! However, we were also able to support 8 existing startups. With 10 total startups, we knew it was an ambitious undertaking, but we maintained transparency on "building the plane while flying it" and enjoyed having the startups help us build our program to best serve them while they were in it with us!
Rather than tell startups what they needed with prescribed one-size-fits-all programming, we used a human-centered design approach that made the experience both individualized and personable. We developed some amazing working relationships with the members of our cohort, taking deep dives into each of their "why's" and creating more authentic visions and pitches. We also reevaluated business models, and explored new possibilities from many different fronts. This too, was rooted in design thinking.
The design thinking approach of flaring and focusing means navigating expanding out to including as many possibilities across different areas and stages of ideas, and then narrowing down to specific stages and focus areas. Typically this is understood on a problem/solution level for idea/product development. Starting with all of the different potential problems that can be empathized with, then defining the problem that is worth pursuing, then ideating on all the possible solutions, then starting to prototype a few different options, then focusing in on testing the most viable option, and finally expanding out to all the different applications of that solution.
However, this can also be applied to startup ecosystems themselves. Incubator and accelerator cohorts often exist within a specific focus in a single vertical and specific stage startup. However, for the regenerative systems of solutions (and overall blue economies) we look to build, these startups cannot afford to exist in siloes. In fact, there are many externalities that show that crossing verticals actually creates mutually beneficial value. Thus, our venture studio approach has truly hit on something groundbreaking - crossing verticals and stages through focusing on individual traction and collaboration.
Whether the startup was just assembled, is looking to scale, or is anywhere in between, we found that those at a stage for "flaring out" were able to truly capitalize the most on the opportunity of being in our cohort, taking in new opportunities that they may not have considered previously, and walking away with some exciting new possibilities that wouldn't have existed otherwise.
A great example of this included bringing together startups like Kee Farms and PanaSea - growing seaweed to reverse climate change while creating feed for "cash crop" sea cucumbers, which themselves are incredible catalysts for reef regeneration. Then throw in the seaweed processing capabilities of Thalasso to turn the seaweed into products, and now you have a circular system that can output products and positive environmental impacts. The cohort also had great collaborative opportunities with our network. Sipremo will be piloting their natural disaster forecasting and mitigation AI in the US by leveraging a new partnership with local Miami startup (and our good friends) PADL and their new integrated sensors on their paddleboards!
What's Next For Seaworthy?
The first major announcement we made Wednesday night was the launch of our standalone non-profit, the Seaworthy Foundation, which is being co-led by Stephanie Wright (below).
Bringing all of the pieces together on what's next, our dedicated non-profit social impact arm now fully complements our existing for-profit economic impact arm, to altogether drive regenerative ocean and climate impact.
Stephanie shared her incredible story of what someone with a passion and resourcefulness can accomplish, even starting virtually halfway around the world on a cruise ship in Singapore. Stephanie detailed her background and vision for the Seaworthy Foundation:
The future of conservation and ocean regeneration has to be inclusive, not only because it’s the right thing to do (which it is) but because it will take all of the voices, coastal or not, all of the talent, BlueTech or not, to build equitable opportunities that do not currently exist.
I know this because my story is emblematic of what can be accomplished when you bring passionate people to the table, they show up; whether or not they have the background, the education, the money… Passionate, driven people are resourceful, we use our experiences to help drive solutions for the future because we have to.
The Seaworthy Foundation is our future. Our nonprofit will build and educate our community by leading ocean innovation in accessibility, inclusivity, and interdisciplinarity. You may know of our panel events, the Sea Change Maker Series, which brings the experiences and ideas from our network of mentors and collaborators across a multitude of industries to our community. This transmission of knowledge is vital.
But more excitingly, next year we are piloting a program that speaks directly to the area in which I am most passionate. The Seaworthy Fellowship is our intentional and driven effort to make ocean entrepreneurship more diverse. We are providing not only opportunities for black and brown communities, but access into the industry. The Seaworthy Foundation's Fellowship is exactly what I was looking for over a year ago.
It’s not just about my vision or Daniel’s. All of us are a piece of the story. Every panel attendee, every mentor, every donor, and partner. Each of us are a part of Seaworthy Foundation’s mission to bring resources, inspiration, information, opportunities, and community to go at this, together. We’re opening the floodgates to build this even better with the collective effort of our community moving forward. With your help we can turn the tide and solve the ocean's greatest problems together.
Opening Our Hybrid $1 Million Seed Round
With this clear vision moving forward, as well as our proven track record now with this cohort behind us, we're ready to take our biggest leap yet - we're raising our first million as a hybrid raise between both of our entities. Seaworthy Collective and the Seaworthy Foundation are seeking out like-minded philanthropists, grantors, and impact investors alike who share in our ambitions to build and activate a radically accessible, and collaborative community that will continue changing the blue world for the better (regeneratively).