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North-east entrepreneur’s seafood venture gets £17.5m boost

Rooser chief executive Joel Watt.
Rooser chief executive Joel Watt.

North-east seafood entrepreneur Joel Watt’s fish trading platform Rooser has raised £17.5 million of capital funding to scale up.

The funding round was led by Index Ventures, which has previously backed Etsy, Farfetch, Deliveroo and Just Eat. Google Ventures and Point Nine Capital also took part.

Rooser plans to use the cash to advance its mission to eliminate seafood waste and improve transparency of the fish supply chain.

Its innovative trading platform reduces friction for seafood buyers and sellers by combining stock management, a sales tool and access to a real-time, online marketplace.

Close up of fish being held by a hand

Suppliers can use its cloud-based software tool to manage their stocks, as well as to upload the price and profile of different fish to a personalised online store and Rooser’s wider digital market.

Via this single point of access, sellers gain the ability to manage and sell to their existing customers, faster and for free, as well as to access new buyers – many more than would be possible through traditional methods.

In turn, buyers can search and transact through the platform, filtering by species, fishing area, method, delivery time and quality score.

Rooser currently facilitates seafood trading across more than 250 companies and in 13 European countries.

The business was launched in 2019 and is led by co-founder and chief executive Joel Watt, a graduate of Robert Gordon University.

Mr Watt started his career in accountancy roles with PwC and Bibby Offshore, and more recently spent six-and-a-half years as a director of Fraserburgh fish processor Jack Taylor.

His father owned a fishing boat and his grandfather ran a processing factory.

The idea for Rooser came about when he and his cousin, Mark Stephen, established a fish processing plant, remortgaging their parents’ homes to obtain the starting capital.

In fewer than seven years they grew their business to a staff of 50 and about £8.3m million in annual turnover.

They saw first-hand how laborious and challenging it can be in the fish supply chain.

The giant machine

Mr Watt said: “The seafood industry is like this giant machine, with all these gears turning all the time at breakneck speed.

“Rooser was what we hacked together to solve the problem for our factory, and we realised the opportunity when other processors started wanting the software.

“In the long run, what we’re building should help us to understand and manage global fish stocks more responsibly, to see where our seafood comes from and to ensure the best-quality produce ends up on our plates.”

Rooser’s cash injection comes amid soaring global demand for seafood, partly driven by a greater consumer focus on healthy diets.

Georgia Stevenson, partner at Index Ventures, said: “The seafood market is huge, but it’s fragmented and mostly offline.

“Rooser promises to make the whole experience simpler and more efficient for everyone in the value chain – improving margins, reducing waste, giving buyers greater choice and sellers a bigger market.

“The Rooser team have lived and breathed seafood for years, and they have an intuitive sense of how to help their customers. We believe they are uniquely placed to succeed in this exciting space.”

35,000 transactions annually across Europe

Fish worth more than £118 billion is traded in Europe every year, with around 35,000 different deals taking place between about 140,000 businesses.

Rooser says its technology can help traders save time, make more profits and waste less fish.

The company is currently focused on building its market and developing its stock management software for primary processors.

Further down the road, it plans to use the data on its platform to generate “meaningful” insights, models and reports for users.

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