AIC Judges Offer Recommendations to Participants: an open letter

May 3, 2019
  Dear Aquaculture Innovation Challenge Participants,
Congratulations for making it this far- you should all be proud of yourselves for the blood, sweat and tears it takes to get out there and start something new. As an official media partners for the AIC, your future success is in our best interest, and we’ve been in the unique position of being able to give you a few pointers that have come from our chats with the jury.
We know that the judges took the time to give each of you constructive feedback on your proposals. It’s not that we want to repeat them, but instead, we want to provide you with a little clue about what the judges will be looking at when they read your business plans in round two, for you to take into the finals and beyond.

Judges’ overall thoughts: There is a diverse range of challenges in the Indonesian shrimp industry, and they were happy to see that there was an equally diverse range of innovations. “Aquaculture became a meaningful industry in the 21st century but still uses 19th-century tools”, one judge remarked, noting that the AIC “draws attention to this problem and offers a solution”- that includes you! Those that have made it through have demonstrated the potential of their innovation to have positive change on the shrimp supply chain in Indonesia but, to make it through to the finals, more is asked of you, and the bar is set higher.

Advice for the future:  As you continue to create business plans throughout your professional careers, seek out mentors who are willing to read your business plan and challenge your assumptions. Take it step by step and “map out multiple paths to commercialization”, getting feedback along the way before making decisions and moving on to the next stage.

Before handing in your business plans, make sure the reader will understand how your innovation will apply to your target audiences- in this case, that includes smallholder farmers, in terms of the costs, logistics and technical support needed. How will it be available on the smallest and most remote of Indonesia’s (commercial) shrimp farms? If you already have real customers, investors or interested parties- talk to them. Talk to as many of them as you can and incorporate them, by name, into your business plan. Doing this builds credibility and demonstrates your ability to sell your product.

When your business plan is being entered in a competition, keep in mind both the end user of your product AND the criteria of the competition. For the AIC, you will have to detail your business model, and how it will earn enough to sustain your company- two of the criteria sections are “degree of business potential” and “degree of readiness for finances”.  You will also be judged on the degree of “innovation” and “social and environmental impact” of your innovations.  If you have not brushed up on the competition criteria, we suggest you always do so as it’s one of your ever-ready sources of feedback- https://aquaculturechallenge.com/en/awards/.

The Aquaculture Innovation Challenge is an excellent opportunity to get a critical response to your business plan, in a safe space, from those in the best position to give you actionable insights. If nothing else, through the judges feedback in this next round, the AIC will provide you with a clear indication of what to work on and where to focus for subsequent iterations of this document.

If you make it to the AIC finals, it will also be a great chance to meet with other entrepreneurs and get inspiration and feedback from your peers. It will give you the opportunity to connect with the knowledge, experience, finance and other resources necessary to take your ideas and turn them into impactful businesses, to the benefit of the aquaculture industry, and us all. Finally, it will give you exposure among the public and private, investor and business community.  The more you bring in, the more you get out.

Two of the jury members had a direct message that they asked us to pass on to you:

Ken Malone, co-founder of Early Charm Ventures, LLC
Simple business plans are hard to execute- complex plans are impossible. Sure, have big dreams but find that simple way to take the first step.
Chelsea Andrews, general manager of XpertSea
As you dig deeper into your research, your ideas and business concepts will evolve. Stay open-minded and don’t be afraid to change directions as you come across new information. Best of luck as you continue through the competition and beyond, XpertSea and those in the Aqua Industry are rooting for your success!

Finally,
In the days before submission, as you are finalising your business plans, we hope that this letter helps to remind you of things you have missed or serves as a checklist of everything you have already expressed.

As we wrote this letter to you, looking through all of the great advice that the AIC jury provided, we this could be interesting, not only to the AIC participants but to fledgeling entrepreneurs everywhere, so took the liberty of opening this letter up to the public. We hope you don’t mind…

Looking forward to learning more about all of you, and looking forward to featuring stories of how you shake up the shrimp industry in the future- making shrimpin’ that little bit more sustainable, profitable and easy.


Sincerely Yours, ShrimpTails

Oh yeah, if you’re interested in some of the advice given by the AIC 2017 finalists, read our article in the most recent edition. It looks at the aim of the AIC, its 2017 finalists and the advice that they give to people just starting their entrepreneurial careers- https://seafood-tip.com/shrimptails-online/march-2019/?page=32.

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