Maine Venture Fund proudly welcomes Shellfish Solutions (doing business as “Oyster Tracker”) to our portfolio of fast-growing Maine companies.
Through investment in Oyster Tracker, we are excited to support the growing aquaculture base in Maine. As climate change reduces cold, clean water zones globally, Maine remains an ideal environment for producing some of the best-tasting half-shells in the world. And there is still plenty of room to grow: in 2016, all shellfish leases combined accounted for .06% of Maine’s coastal waters, with a high-side projection of .3% by 2030, according to a report by the Hale Group.
Oyster Tracker’s team of experts is led by Chip Terry, an ambitious entrepreneur with experience building brands as well as managing engineers. As a hobby, Chip began helping a friend farm oysters as a way to introduce his children to the wonders of the sea, and his love affair with Ostreoidea was born. As Chip’s interest grew, he began to meet other farmers, some working on a much larger scale, and he realized that few had a sound means for tracking operations from seed to sale. Many in the industry still use paper and pencil or whiteboards with vast table arrays. He also knew from first-hand experience that, once a farmer decided to scale, complexity rose considerably. To wit, roughly 40% of seeded oysters typically perish before harvest. Once they are landed, tracking individual bags of oysters through the distribution chain of custody is also a huge challenge. Chip saw that these and other issues could be mitigated with a more careful tracking system, and decided to create it.
Oyster Tracker can be viewed as a software version of the traditional whiteboard, one that is both portable (many farmers bring their iPad out on the water) and scalable, allowing farmers to easily save and share information, hone husbandry techniques and even predict and plan future growing cycles. Oyster Tracker cites a statistic from Seafood Source: at a typical farm producing one million oysters annually, just a 5% improvement in mortality rates can save 50,000 oysters and add $25,000 to the bottom line.
Today, Oyster Tracker has customers in ten US states, Ireland and Canada, and the platform is poised to rapidly expand as the gold standard in shellfish tracking software. To that end, Oyster Tracker expects to produce category-specific software for other shellfish in the future as the global food paradigm continues to shift towards aquaculture as a relatively healthy, low-impact food source.
Congratulations to the entire team at Oyster Tracker – Maine Venture Fund looks forward to an exciting partnership. Aw, shucks.