Inspired in part by his own struggles with the "uncontrollable" aspect of raising fish, Gibran El Farizy founded eFishery to make aquaculture more efficient and productive. In a recent interview with the Nikkei Asian Review, the 27-year-old entrepreneur talked about his company's struggles and success, and why Indonesia is the place to be for startups like his.
How does your product work? You put the machine by the side of the pond, and this machine feeds the fish. It is connected to a sensor that senses the fishes' appetite. It is connected to the cloud as well, so you can monitor the feeding process directly on your smartphone anywhere.
The direct impact is on the feed conversion ratio. It makes the feed conversion ratio higher and the feeding cost lower. Because there is no overfeeding -- and excess feed, as we know, is the biggest pollutant in the water -- we can maintain the water quality as well. That way we can increase the daily growth of the fish and reduce the mortality rate. You can produce more fish in a shorter time.
How have you developed your business? In the first year and a half, we were focusing on building the technology. We were testing. We were collaborating with consumer companies, farmers, just to prove this technology can really work. Then we spent a year and a half just selling this product. We've sold hundreds of units across Indonesia, especially in Java and Sumatra, and a little part of Bali. The farmers were a bit resistant to the new technology, but after they tried the technology, they loved it because it improves their business. It increases their margin.
What other countries are you trying to expand into? Our focus is on the six biggest producers. Globally, 84% of fish farming production is in Asia ... and six countries account for 70% of total production: China, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh. For the next three years we will focus on these six countries because they already have the biggest market share; also because they consume fish and are also the biggest exporters to the West.
What are the advantages of being based in Indonesia? Asia is the biggest market in the world. We have the biggest market. If we say we are an Indonesian startup, then potential partners know that we are in the right place. And this is also the right time: Startups are growing, consumption is growing, income is growing, so it is really a good time.
Why is eFishery based in Bandung rather than Jakarta? Bandung is close to Jakarta, and that is where the talent is. We have the best universities in Jakarta, the best talent. But in Bandung it is pretty similar. In some cases, Bandung talent is better. ... To start a new company, the costs are lower to get a new office. Also, the salary costs are lower in Bandung. We can get the company running without sacrificing too much ... and it is more comfortable.
Interviewed by Nikkei staff writer Shotaro Tani