Shellfish marketing startup Willapa Wild secures over USD 1 million in investments

Published on
July 16, 2019

Ocean Park, Washington, U.S.A.-based marketing startup Willapa Wild LLC can continue incubating its business thanks to the more than USD 1 million (EUR 888,028) it recently raised, according to a new report from the Coast River Business Journal.

Willapa Wild announced that it had received new investment funding from Kalorama, LLC, a qualified opportunity zone fund, in June. The firm’s current incubator and angel investor, Bear Claw House, is responsible for the remainder of the latest raised capital, the Coast River Business Journal reported. 

The investments are expected to “fuel and speed Willapa Wild’s expansion as the company seeks to advance the ability of consumers to connect directly with fisherman and shellfish farmers in the immediate area,” the company said in a June press release. Carley Roney and David Liu, the founders of Kalorama, will now serve on Willapa Wild’s board of directors. 

Owned by Cora and Antony Barran, Willapa Wild is “focused on the disruption of the shellfish and seafood industries” through the use of the internet and technology. As consumers become more invested in the social and environmental integrity of the products they purchase, the firm has identified an opportunity to better cater to the sophisticated sensibilities of modern eaters. 

“As consumers become more educated and concerned about the impacts of climate change and pollution on the environment, they are also becoming more sophisticated in their understanding of the impact their good consumption has on the environment,” Willapa Wild told the Coast River Business Journal. “This concern is driving them to find more sustainable and healthy options for both themselves and the planet. One significant aspect of that effort is the drive to close the distance and open transparency in the ‘farm to fork’ experience.”

“This truly is one of the last industries to remain undisrupted by technology and the Internet,” the firm continued. 

“Our goal is clear — we want to provide consumers with a transparent, sustainable, and healthy source of proteins that are good for the plant and the people that consume them, simultaneously taking back significant amounts of profit and returning it to the fisherman and farmers that are in such great need of support. We’re looking forward to working with our partners to scale this effective approach across the area and create a clear pathway to both the freshest and best product for consumers and living wages for the people that work within the fishing and shellfish farming industries,” added Antony Barran, Willapa Wild’s president.

To receive a financial vote of confidence from a successful digital investment firm like Kalorama – which is responsible for founding the wedding website “The Knot,” as well as its sister sites “The Bump” and “The Nest” – has been encouraging for Willapa Wild, Barran said. 

“We are thrilled Carley and David chose to invest in Willapa Wild. Their track record and abilities speak for themselves. At the same time, it’s a great thing that Pacific County can attract digital investment from a seasoned New York Venture Capital team if the right opportunity is created,” he said, according to the Coast River Business Journal.

A business dedicated to helping farmed shellfish producers engage consumers, Willapa Wild has worked with companies like Ekone Oyster Co., which merged with Taylor Shellfish in 2017. Such a partnership showcased for Kalorama a sound foundation that the firm looks for when it invests in digital enterprises, explained Liu. 

“Willapa Wild has already proven to be a leader in building direct to consumer strategies for the sustainable farmed shellfish industry in the area,” Liu said. “Through marketplaces like Amazon, they have partnered with leading companies like Ekone Oyster Co. and Taylor Shellfish [which merged in 2017] to complete the proof of concept that we look for in a digital investment. We are excited to help consumers buy and choose to eat sustainable food that is good for the environment. Finally, we are thrilled that this opportunity is primarily focused on the last pristine bay in the U.S., a resource we need to do everything we can to preserve it.”

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