How SeaSmart Raised Capital by Working Better with Investors
Despite the coronavirus pandemic and oil price crash that has gripped the world since early 2020, Norwegian aquaculture startup SeaSmart still managed to hit their fundraising goals to close a significant investment round in May.
We got in touch with SeaSmart founder and CEO, Andreas Morland, to understand how they did it, and how their participation in NCE Seafood Innovation Cluster’s Startup Capital Program had helped.
Startups and Funding
For startups to succeed, its owners must be able to attract capital. However, many startups struggle with this. While they are passionate about building the technology and customer base, funding plans are often left on the backburner.
“How you put together your investment plan is as much building the company as building that technology or building your customer base. And structuring your team and having an investment plan in place is as important.”
Andreas Morland, SeaSmart Founder & CEO
Joining NCE Seafood Innovation Cluster’s Startup Capital Raising Program
SeaSmart was one of seven startups which participated in the “Are You Ready to Raise Capital” program jointly developed by Engage // Innovate, Strategy Tools, EY and the NCE Seafood Innovation Cluster.
The program was designed and led by Christian Rangen. During the three-month program, they delved into the capital raising process, investor relations and ultimately how they can amp up their capital raising game.
Key Takeaways from the Program
Getting a different view on investors
Participating in the Capital Raising Program gave SeaSmart a new perspective on investor planning.
“The NCE Seafood’s Capital Raising program had been incredibly useful. The learnings we got there was something that’s been missing from the general training / information given to startups” said Morland
Previously, what is taught was always – build a company, build a product that customers will want, build the team, and the investors will come,”
“However, unless you can make your investor plan as viable as everything else, you don’t have a company,”
Thinking from the investor’s perspective
During the program, program lead Christian Rangen shared about syndicates – an investment vehicle that allows investors to co-invest with relevant and reputable investors in the market.
This different way of thinking about investors really helped structure how SeaSmart approached their next fundraising round.
“I’ve been thinking of investors kind of like finding a girlfriend, right? You are with one at a time and are dedicated, but really, for an investor, what reduces the risk the most? Not being alone. Who you are in this together with is very important to them,” said Morland.
Learning investor vocabulary
Being part of the program really drilled in the different aspects investors would look at when considering a startup.
“Learning what investors cared about, think about – this new sort of vocabulary was very important for the round that we eventually closed where we had four different investors,” said Morland.
“That meant being an intermediary between the four investors, and it was very useful to bring in what I had learned from the program – being able to ask the right questions and understand the vocabulary and address problems,” he added.
A brand new pitch deck fine-tuned for investors
Taking in what he’s learned from the program, Morland has completely reworked SeaSmart’s pitch deck to tell a better story that resonated with investors.
“The pitch deck I have now is quite different from the pitch deck I used to have. Now there’s virtually no technology – and it’s much better structured.”
Another element that was crucial to SeaSmart’s fundraising success was the Investor Scorecard shared by Christian Rangen during the program.
“I found the Investor Scorecard strategy tool very useful during the fundraising rounds. I used it to very quickly set up the numbers for the investors we were considering,”
“It helped us get a very clear picture on which investors fit best and what we wanted from the investor – you can go to the investor and say, ‘this is how much money I need, this is who else I wanna put together in this investment round, and this is what the owner syndicate is going to look like, and this is what I want from you.’
That becomes a very strong argument for why they could invest.”
“The reason we managed to close our most recent funding round was because of what we’ve done as part of the Capital Program. Having a solid pitch deck and a very clear idea of what we wanted made it interesting for the investors”
Three Tips for Aquaculture Startup Founders
We asked Andreas Morland what he’s learned after six years as a startup founder – and what advice he had for other startups in the aquaculture industry – and he’s what he had to say.
Your Customers Are
When you test your business model, be very critical to who you are testing it on. You need to focus on the actual customer base (who will buy it) rather than the biologists or scientists who think that the idea is fantastic but have no resources to pay for it. That’s something I have learned the hard way.
Your investor roadmap is just as important as your development project, and that needs to be addressed for all startups.
Think About How You Will Monetize
Think about how you will monetize your concept. Know your customer – they will be concerned with the immediate bottom line – you need to document the bottom line in a very immediate and simple way.
Andreas Morland is the founder and CEO of SeaSmart.
SeaSmart provides an integrated hardware and software platform for real-time environment monitoring of offshore aquaculture cages and data analytics for the detection of sea lice & diseases and business intelligence. The SeaSmart technology is current gaining significant traction in Norway with a growing number of satisfied customers due to its ease of use and accessible reporting standards.
NCE Seafood Innovation Cluster is recognized as one of the world’s most complete industry clusters and knowledge hubs in the seafood industry. The cluster consists of 70 partners, and plays a leading role in the sustainable development of the industry through significant investments in research, development and innovation.