Sean Wittenberg and Bryan Boches like tuna, which is why they created Safe Catch, their canned tuna that's mercury-free and has standards that are ten times stricter than the FDA mercury action limit. The tuna is packed fresh, cooked in the can, and is preservative free (with the exception of Albacore with salt). Their mission is to “bring safe seafood to moms and kids." Mercury is dangerous to everyone, but pregnant women and kids are more vulnerable to its effects.
Marketing a brand of tuna wasn't the original business plan. Sean and his dad invented the testing process and tried marketing their services to fish canneries. The response was underwhelming. Enter Mr. Boches, a Wharton graduate, former venture capitalist, and serial entrepreneur. He believed they could market their own brand of safe tuna, so in April, 2015, that's what they did.
In order to call their product safe and let consumers feel safe, they used their own testing protocol to vet each fish as it's caught. They only buy fish from fisherman using sustainable fishing practices and they only buy mercury free tuna. It's that simple. Combined with their preservative free canning process that cooks the fish in the can insures each can of Safe Catch is fresh and wholesome.
Sharks eat tuna in the wild, but will they bite on this business?
My Take on Safe Catch
I fish a lot and I've caught both bluefin and yellowfin tuna. Bluefin is great for sushi (most of it isn't available in the USA as the Japanese buy much of the catch at exorbitant prices). Most of the canned tuna available in the USA is either Skipjack or Albacore.
As for me, I used to like opening a can of tuna and making a sandwich every once in a while. As a young bachelor, tuna noodle casserole was a cheap and filling staple. When I say I used to like canned tuna, some recent recalls scared the crap out of me. There were many recalls of canned tuna in the past few years, some of them were products that could cause death!
Safe Catch is a bit more expensive than the standard store brand, but for people concerned with their health, it's a small price to pay. Sustainability is personally important to me. As a fisherman, I want a healthy fishery – so I can catch more fish! Since the product is healthy AND sustainable, you can count me in.
Do Sharks like Tuna?
The Sharks may or may not like tuna, but it's the business they'll be scrutinizing. Wittenberg and Boches are smart guys. They created a niche in the multi-billion dollar canned tuna market by appealing to people's health. Reviews indicate people like the product, but what about the business.
Safe Catch originally sold online, but they are making inroads to grocery chains like Wegman's. The key to a deal is going to balance on the amount of debt the company accrued in its formative stages. As a former VC guy, you have to believe Boches has sold some private equity for funds. If the company isn't too diluted to allow a Shark to get a fair sized chunk of the deal, they may have a shot at a Shark partnership.