Seaworthy Year 2 In Review - Looking Back Before Looking Ahead
Updated: Sep 29, 2022
Before unveiling Seaworthy 2.0 next week, I always love to take the opportunity to look back on the highlights and lessons learned over the last year, as we continue to evolve to better serve our community.
This month marks two years since Seaworthy Collective launched, with our first of over 30 events to date. We started building community rooted in our ANCHORED values, with lofty aspirations of seeding systems change from the ground up. Along the way, we discovered an opportunity to break down barriers to contributing to impactful solutions by building the first ocean and climate startup venture studio. By the start of 2021, we launched our Opportunities for Sea Change, creating the first accessible opportunities for aspiring impact entrepreneurs co-create ocean and climate solutions, while also supporting current entrepreneurs already working to make their visions a reality. All of that led up to the launch of our first venture studio cohort of 10 startups led by 25 sea change makers (founders) in July of 2021.
Seaworthy’s first year was dedicated towards proving our concept and establishing our Collective as a leader in regenerative ocean and climate impact for Miami and beyond. From building an inclusive community that dependably showed up for both our virtual and in-person events, to tangibly demonstrating the value we could create for startups and founders in our venture studio, we knew we were just getting started. In case you missed it, you can read the full recap on Seaworthy's first year here.
Looking back on year #2, the growth, outcomes, and impacts created by our community and team has been everything we could hope for and more. Between wrapping up our first cohort in October of 2021 to our second cohort in July of this year, we've been able to reach over 2300 people with our programs and support 20 startups and 48 founders across 4 continents. Throughout, there were some incredible highlights that we are excited to celebrate with our community, with key lessons learned along the way.
Sea Change Makers Cohort 1 - Then & Now
Next month marks a year since we wrapped up our first cohort at Frost Science Museum. While we knew our first group of sea change making founders were off to do amazing things, we didn't realize that would actually be an understatement.
In less than a year after completing our inaugural venture studio program, we've seen an incredible amount of traction and accomplishments for many of the members of our cohort! These are some of the latest datapoints from our first cohort:
This doesn't even include many of the amazing news our startups made! We saw two of our cohort members, Anya and Kind Designs (FKA The Addition Co) and Nicholas Kee and Kee Farms, pitch at Miami's largest ever climate conference, Aspen Ideas Climate. We also saw Frode and Paulina at Thalasso winning pitch competitions, and so much more!
Earning Our Stripes
Meanwhile, 2022 accelerated the growth of Seaworthy itself, with opportunities that became pivotal to not only growing our business, but truly catalyzing personal development.
Kicking off the year, we were invited to attend the Ultramarine Ocean Summit, an annual gathering of ocean leaders at Richard Branson's Necker Island. We not only proved we belonged in the room; we ended up as co-facilitators (and will be co-facilitating Ultramarine 2023)!
From there, we kept up the momentum, winning the CleanTech category for Synapse Summit's Innovation Award, earning recognition as one of the most innovative startups in Florida! We also co-led breakout groups at the 2022 National Ocean Exploration Forum in Austin, Texas.
Most importantly, we achieved two critical milestones in Seaworthy's growth as the Seaworthy Foundation earned its 501c3 status in March, and we brought on our first full-time employee with Tamara Kahn coming on board to lead our startup programs!
Some other spring highlights included getting to meet Her Deepness, Dr. Sylvia Earle, participating in a local climate leader roundtable with F1 Champion Sebastian Vettel, and becoming Miami-Dade's first startup in residence under Mayor Levine Cava!
While all of this excitement was going on, we remained focused on assembling our second cohort of 10 startups, which launched in April of this year.
Two & Improved! Seaworthy's 2nd Cohort & Startup Showcase
Seaworthy's second cohort of sea change makers not only doubled down on the value for our founders that we created in cohort 1, but allowed us to formalize and refine our program so it would be ready to duplicate and scale.
This cohort brought our total number of startups supported to 20 globally across 4 continents. Even more so, it helped us narrow in on the needs of our community, with many just starting to build out their business models, pitch decks, and/or scaling plans.
Although it's only been 2 months since we wrapped our cohort, we've already seen members of our cohort go on to find pilot opportunities, receive their first investment, and continue on to other incubators and accelerators! These are some of the latest datapoints from cohort 2:
We're so excited to see where our second cohort startups will go over the next few months, and we look forward to sharing more updates as they happen from all of our second cohort members! Remember to head over to our startups page to get to read more about our startups. And if you're an investor looking to access our cohorts' pitchbook, be sure to submit your request through the form at the bottom of the page!
Our First Deep Dives Impact Report & The Prince's Roundtable
In celebration of World Ocean's Day this year, we compiled our first ever "Deep Dives" impact report. Our Deep Dives not only looked ahead to what we will accomplish, but also provide the first barometer of what we've accomplished to date across 2 venture studio cohorts and more than 30 events. Read the full report and goals here.
Although these blog posts provide much of the qualitative reflections on our progress, the numbers on what we've been able to accomplish over 2 years truly speak for themselves.
We are incredibly proud of all of these outcomes and impacts we've driven, tangibly demonstrating how we're making ocean innovation more accessible and inclusive. To accomplish all of this as a bootstrapped startup would not have been possible without our incredible team, which has largely been made up of volunteers.
To all of our team and volunteers - we're so grateful for all of your hard work and dedication, and it's a true testament to what our community can accomplish together! If you're interested in getting involved with our team, you can learn more about our volunteer opportunities here.
All of our hard work and sacrifice led to our most notable recognition yet, earning Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation's Prize for Innovative Philanthropy.
As a keynote speaker for the Prince's Roundtable on Innovative Philanthropy, I shared how reversing anthropogenic impact will take a collective accumulation of regional collaborative efforts. It’s necessary for communities, organizations, and ecosystems to radically collaborate while approaching problems empathetically, without barriers to anyone being included. This results in authentic representation of the diversity of people and ideas contributing to solving the most pressing problems of our times. The greatest barriers we have to solving these problems aren’t technical, but are barriers to opportunity and implementation for people, solutions, and regions alike.
In my closing remarks, I connected the dots on my personal journey, and how I've carried my father's legacy of enabling me to pursue my passion by enabling others to have that same incredibly empowering opportunity for ocean impact. As the youngest ever winner (and first under 30) of this 12 year prize, representing the next generation of impact leaders was one of the most humbling moments of my career.
Getting Back To Our Roots Building & Educating Our Community
Finally, we've gotten back to doing what we do best; building and educating our community for ocean and climate impact. We launched the Miami Climate Community Social Hour in May during Aspen Ideas Climate as a way to collaboratively bring together our local community and highlight fellow impact organizations leading the development of our ecosystem. If you're local to South Florida and want to find likeminded people looking to drive change for our region, register to join our next gathering on October 13th. We'll also be collaborating for next month's MiamiTech Happy Hour on October 26th. If you're interested in being a sponsor for any of our community events, reach out to our IRL Community Director, Brittany Small.
While we had to cancel our most recent Sea Change Makers Series Panel due to Hurricane Ian, keep an eye out for our October Panel to be announced for later next month!
As we look ahead to Seaworthy 2.0, we understand that scaling our community is how we will scale our impact. If you'd like to bring our community events to your city, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lessons Learned - The Foundations for Seaworthy 2.0
Community & Business Are Not The Same
One of the defining moments to start the year was our team co-creating our direction in moving forward for 2022. While we went through the growing pains of building out our business, it could not take away from the real reason so much of our team volunteered their precious time; we are here to build community first and foremost.
The Seaworthy team's own structure and success is the prototype and case study for the type of community we are building; centering collective impact and reciprocity for our oceans through inspired, energy-producing, and enriching participation, collaboration, and co-creation.
With this in mind, we have focused our two brands to reflect this; Seaworthy Collective is our community's brand, while Seaworthy Foundation provides the programs to serve our community.
Caveats To Reinventing The (Hybrid) Wheel
Since the early days of Seaworthy, we were dedicated to developing the hybrid for-profit / non-profit model. We understood our community building and education work fell under traditional non-profit work, however working with for-profit startups in our venture studio was something that seemingly fell under the for-profit model.
While the venture studio model for ocean innovation may be relatively new, most ocean incubators and accelerators have historically had non-profit models (see our fellow members of the 1000 Ocean Startups Coalition for reference). This is a result of funding for initiatives like Seaworthy and more traditional incubators and accelerators typically falling under philanthropic social and economic development work. This validation process of finding aligned funders and building the proper legal structure to reach them has been a lesson learned for many of our own startups exploring the hybrid model.
With this in mind, we realized it best to consolidate all of our programs and operations under our 501c3 non-profit, Seaworthy Foundation, simplifying our structure moving forward while leaving open the possibility of building out a separate for-profit early stage ocean investment fund in the near future.
Keeping It Simple & Focused
As founders, our ambitions are some of the hardest things to contain. With every step of validation comes higher aspirations, and it's no surprise that many of us in the BlueTech space border on "boiling the ocean" (pun intended).
Accepting limitations for ourselves and/or for our ambitions is one of the hardest lessons to learn as an entrepreneur. However, the truth is no one person or company can do everything. At some point, we need to get back to core; what is it that we do best and why?
For Seaworthy 2.0, we've simplified our work across 3 programmatic focus areas moving forward:
Community programs build localized communities and engagement while advancing ocean and climate impact innovation ecosystem development.
Social and educational programs drive inclusion of diverse talent and awareness of resources and opportunities while supporting social and workforce development.
Startup programs activate communities to co-create and grow scalable companies and impact while accelerating economic development and environmental regeneration.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on updates we can't wait to share for Seaworthy. On Monday, October 3rd, we'll unveil the full vision for Seaworthy 2.0, including some opportunities and announcements we've been excited to share for some time!
In the meantime, we're just starting to share our first asks of our community and broader ecosystem. If you'd like to support scaling the impacts that you've read above, we're looking to bring on our first wave of supporting partners to enable us to execute our programs for 2023! Learn more about partnering with Seaworthy here, or download our partnership package here.
To everyone who has been part of the last year of building community, collaboration, and innovation with Seaworthy - THANK YOU! From our team to our advisors, to all of the mentors and collaborators in our network, to our supporting, strategic, and investing partners, and of course our amazing community that shows up and supports us incredibly - we can't wait to exponentially scale our sea change with all of you moving forward.
Founder & CEO Daniel@SeaworthyCollective.com