Manolin on the Road: A Preview

Over this next week, John and I are driving up the coast of Norway, camping in remote areas, and visiting farmers along the way in order to fully embrace the Norwegian culture and experience the country. But this trip doesn’t actually start in Norway.

Last week, our Hatch cohort flew to Singapore to visit the aquaculture and startup ecosystem there. It was our first time in Southeast Asia, and we didn’t know what to expect. In our week there, we met with many investors and startups, but perhaps the most unique person we met was Malcolm Ong, or better known as just “The Fish Farmer.” He owns and operates one of the few aquaculture farms in Singapore, but he’s already created a name for himself around the world.

In our last blog post, we wrote about the similarities that we saw between aquaculture farmers in the United States and those that we met in Norway. The same qualities: trust, dependability, and an entrepreneurial spirit, were immediately apparent when we met Malcolm. Aquaculture in general is a very risky business, and the farmers who make it are the ones that continue to push past years where they may lose their crop to unexpected circumstances. Malcolm’s previous background was in IT, so he places an engineering perspective to many of his challenges.

As we heard more about his various innovations, what stuck out to us is how well designed they are to his specific challenges. Being in Singapore, his problems are different than those of a salmon farmer in Norway, yet he’s utilizing many of the same innovations. For example, machine vision is a quickly growing technology being used on salmon farms to automatically detect biomass and count sea lice. Malcom is using the same technology, adapted onto his iPhone, to detect how many fish he adds to his farm. Its innovation like this that will help farmers better understand what is happening on their farm and push aquaculture into the future.

Our favorite part about the work we do is visiting farmers, hearing their story, and learning about how they’ve overcome challenges through the many years. Malcolm has taught us that no matter where we may be in the world, there will always be a farmer testing new ideas to improve his farm. We can’t wait to hear more of the same as we journey through Norway. Join us as we share their stories, and thanks to Hatch, NCE Seafood, BTO, and DNB for sponsoring this trip. A special thanks to SalmonGroup for helping us get everything set up for the trip!