Indonesian firm wins Aqua-Spark cash

INDONESIAN eFishery, a smart fish feeder manufacturer, has received undisclosed funding from Aqua­-Spark, a Utrecht (the Netherlands) ­based aquaculture investment fund, and Indonesian venture capital firm Ideosource.
As an Internet of Things (IoT) start-up for fish and shrimp farming, the Indonesian firm is tackling one of the largest challenges in commercial aquaculture: feeding operations.
The investment will be used to broaden eFishery’s distribution network on the domestic front – it will engage distributors, find local partners, and expand its market share aggressively in Indonesia. Meanwhile, it will also ramp up its hiring efforts, the company said in a statement.
Traditionally, fish feed forms between 50 and 80 per cent of the fish farming overhead costs. Overfeeding negatively impacts the environment in many ways, as a great deal of fish food ultimately goes to waste. It also harms the health of a farmer’s stock. Underfeeding means fish may not survive.
The result of unmeasured and inexact fish feeding methods on a commercial scale inevitably means economic losses for farmers.
eFishery tackles this through an affordable, tech-­based solution, in the form of an automatic smart feeder that uses sensors to measure fish appetite and appropriate feed amounts.
Designed for both small and large­-scale farmers, the system can sense appetites, automatically distribute feed, and give real­-time reports of consumption on the farmer’s smartphone.
‘The problem that we are solving is the inefficiency of feeding in the fish farming business,’ said eFishery co-­founder and CEO Gibran Chuzaefah Amsi El Farizy.
‘I saw the problem when I was a fish farmer myself. Fish feeding is done inefficiently by labourers, and farmers don’t have any technology to control the feeding yet.
‘We built this product to make the fish and shrimp farming business more efficient, convenient, and accountable,’ El Farizy added.
The firm earns revenue from selling smart feeders to farmers and distributors. It also charges a monthly subscription fee for the software used to monitor and analyse the fish feeding activities in real­-time via tablet or smartphone.
On average, eFishery’s smart feeding system reduces the amount of feed used by 21 per cent. So far, eFishery has sold hundreds of units in the past two years.
The start-up currently has more than 17,000 fish and shrimp farms in its pipeline, which include orders from Thailand, Singapore, India, China, Brazil, and countries in Africa.
‘We are very excited to solve the global challenge of fish feeding with eFishery,’ said Amy Novogratz (pictured) of Aqua­-Spark.
‘Indonesia has about 3.3 million fish ponds and 2.7 million fish farms. When brought to scale, it could have a massive impact across a global industry plagued by this challenge.
‘It has the potential to set a new standard for aquaculture and make the industry more transparent, data driven, and accountable – all factors that will make businesses in this sector more investment­ friendly.’
Andrias Ekoyuono, vice-president of business development at Ideosource, said: ‘eFishery is a perfect example of a company that is solving real problems in a lucrative market.’
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, more than 96 per cent of fish farming activities worldwide are concentrated in Asia. In Indonesia alone, the overall market size for aquaculture is $5.4 billion.
eFishery will join Aqua-­Spark’s large network of experts, organisations, institutions, and portfolio companies working together in the global aquaculture industry. Other firms to benefit from Aqua-Spark investment include Calysta, a Californian biotech company producing a fishmeal substitute, and Mozambique fish farm Chicoa.
Combined with Ideosource’s expertise in Indonesia’s technology landscape, the two firms will be able to support eFishery’s long-term vision.
At the moment, eFishery’s products are only available in Java, Bali, and Sumatra.
The firm will also implement a rental model in which farmers can rent eFishery’s products and pay monthly, or even make payment after harvesting times.
In this way, small­-scale farmers may find it easier to adopt eFishery’s tech.
The company will soon develop its software ­side platform, create a better dashboard for customers, and add more features and fish compatibility for the device.
In order to do that, it will hire the best talent both on the technical side (software and hardware) and aquaculture side.
eFishery has already won multiple awards, including Get in the Ring 2014 and the Indonesia ICT Award 2013.
With this announcement, eFishery has become one of the nation’s first IoT start-ups to receive investment.