Rooser announces major expansion with injection of $23 million (£17.5 million) in capital funding
Rooser, the first seafood trading platform, announces major expansion with injection of capital funding
- Rooser raises $23 million (£17.5 million) in a funding round led by Index Ventures, with participation from Google Ventures and Point Nine Capital, to scale its trading platform as more buyers and sellers sign up
- The global seafood market is huge and fragmented, with more than €140 billion worth of fish traded between a patchwork of 140,000 businesses in Europe alone
- A piece of fish can change hands up to 7 times before it’s eaten – and before Rooser, for every two fish that make it to your plate, one is wasted
- Rooser’s digital marketplace allows buyers and sellers to transact more widely, quickly, transparently and fairly
- With Rooser, fish processors can reach more buyers and reduce waste, while wholesalers get access to the stock they need much faster than ever before
Rooser, the global seafood marketplace that transforms the way fish makes its way from boat to table, has raised $23 million (£17.5 million) from investors to advance its mission of eliminating seafood waste and improving the transparency of the complex fish supply chain.
The news comes as demand for fish soars due to the rise of the global middle class and a greater focus on healthy diets – even as pressure mounts to address overfishing, sustainability and the need to understand where our fish comes from.
The Series A round was led by Index Ventures, the startup backers of many successful marketplaces including Etsy, Farfetch, Deliveroo and Just Eat. They were joined by Google Ventures and Point Nine Capital.
Founded in 2019, Rooser was created by Chief Executive Officer Joel Watt, a serial seafood entrepreneur with deep connections to the sector; Chief Commercial Officer Nicolas Desormeaux, a seasoned commercial fish buyer and seller with 18 years of experience managing multi-million euro seafood budgets; Chief Operating Officer Erez Mathan, former COO and CRO of GoCardless, who helped scale the global fintech company from 20 to 700 employees and $100 million in annualised revenue; and Chief Technology Officer Thomas Quiroga, founder of the digital agency beyondr.io.
Rooser reduces friction for seafood buyers and sellers by combining stock management, a sales tool and access to a realtime, online marketplace. Suppliers can use Rooser’s cloud-based software tool Sea.Store to manage their fish 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, which is currently trading fish across 13 different countries, performs quality checks for both buyers and sellers – allowing for greater accountability, higher quality produce and faster payments. In April, the company will be launching 7-day payments for suppliers, ensuring timely completion of transactions. The result is that sellers are able to move fish more quickly and to capture a higher margin, while buyers can be confident they will find the right fish, at the right price, at the right time.
The idea for Rooser came about when Watt decided to launch a fish processing plant with his cousin in Scotland, remortgaging their parents’ houses in order to obtain the starting capital. Watt’s grandfather had run a fish factory, while his father had owned a fishing boat. Over six years, Watt and his business partner grew the business to a staff of 50 people and €10 million in annual turnover.
At the forefront of the seafood industry, Watt experienced first-hand how laborious and challenging it was to be a player in the fish supply chain. ‘The seafood industry is like this giant machine, with all these gears turning all the time at breakneck speed,’ says Watt. ‘I saw the chaos for myself. 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 for themselves. 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.’
More than €140 billion worth of fish is traded within Europe every year, with 35,000 different types of items changing hands between a patchwork of around 140,000 businesses. The market is split between multiple fisheries, who harvest the fish; primary processors, who fillet, slice, prepare and package it; wholesalers, who distribute the fish; and end users such as restaurants, supermarkets and fishmongers.
The communication and trading that takes place among these players is incredibly high-paced and stressful – powered by a blizzard of messages, emails and faxes to determine demand and supply, and coupled with added time pressure to sell before the fish goes off. The result is a volatile, high-volume, network-driven market; with its uncertain supply, opaque pricing and offline trading, it’s not dissimilar to how financial markets used to operate before centralised and digital trading.
As a consequence, for every two fish that makes it to a diner’s plate, one goes to waste. Moreover, a piece of fish can be bought and sold up to 7 times before it lands on someone’s plate. With the help of Rooser, all parties to the transaction should be able to save time, make more profit and waste less fish.
‘The seafood market is huge, but it’s fragmented and mostly offline,’ says Georgia Stevenson, the Index partner who led the investment. ‘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.’
Rooser is currently focusing on building its marketplace and stock management software for primary processors. It is working on improved quality controls, supply chain financing and personalised features for buyers and sellers, letting them know ‘who-has-what’ or ‘who-wants-what’, based on their preferences. Down the road, Rooser plans to use the data on its platform to generate meaningful insights, models and reports for users.
Rooser is a global seafood network that connects seafood buyers and suppliers, transforming the way fish moves from boat to table. Founded in 2019 by entrepreneurs with a deep knowledge and passion for the sector, the company provides innovative tools to manage, price and trade fish more efficiently and transparently, radically reducing seafood waste and improving margins across the sector. Rooser is headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland and currently employs 27 people.
About Index Ventures
Index Ventures is a London and San Francisco-based international venture capital firm that helps the most ambitious entrepreneurs turn bold ideas into global businesses. Index-backed companies that are reshaping the world around us include Cargo.one, Dropbox, Elastic, Farfetch, Revolut, Roblox and Slack.
 Based on company calculations from multiple sources, including The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products; McKinsey’s “global aquaculture perspective”, 2018; and The FAO’s (food and agriculture organization) “Food loss and waste in the food supply chain”, 2017, among others