Hello, Dan and Dom. Could you introduce yourselves please?
Hi, we’re Dan & Dom, the co-founders of the Sea Group. We produce Sea Chips – Salmon Skin Crisps and Sea Smoked – Traditional Oak Smoked Salmon, in 100% plastic-free packaging. We’re on a mission to make seafood more sustainable by using environmentally friendly materials with a zero food waste approach.
How did you get the idea for Sea Chips and how did your initial vision differ from the final product?
From our time working in restaurants, we saw the amount of food that went to waste. As chefs its part of our jobs to think of creative ways to reduce food waste. In the restaurant, we saw fish skin being crisped up and used as a garnish. Customers seemed to love them, so after more research, we saw how nutritional these crispy skins were and decided to bag them up ourselves and create a brand that represented our passion for reducing food waste and supporting our seas.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when developing Sea Chips?
There were many challenges. One of the largest was the simple fact that nobody knew how to produce these in large amounts unless you just fried them all which made them unhealthy. Usually, once you start off you have to go to a 3rd party manufacturer to produce these but nobody knew how to handle fish skins, so after lots of trial and error, we had to keep production small and in-house until we met our investor Jonathan Brown. He gave us the resources to be able to produce more whilst still baking them to keep them healthy. Another challenge was that we are the only ones doing it in the UK, although they’re popular in Asia, here in the UK we can be a bit fussy about fish and we had to try and sell the nutritional properties of the crisps to get people to try them, then they usually liked them!
Your new Sea Smoked product has just hit supermarket shelves. Could you tell us a little about this?
We use the skins that would have otherwise been wasted from the smoked salmon production. It seemed a natural progression to create a smoked salmon of our own but give it its own unique twist. We were surprised to see that a 100% plastic-free version wasn’t available in the UK so set about developing it. We wanted to bring the traditional smoked salmon into the modern era. The materials are made using natural ingredients such as cassava starch and eucalyptus using Scottish salmon. The salmon itself is gently smoked over oak wood chips for a delicate oak flavour. What we are proud about is that this product retails at a competitive price, so consumers don’t have to spend more to choose more sustainable options.
What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur who is hoping to launch a new product?
Create a basic product and get it out there and develop it as you go. Keep it small at first and just see what works. Don’t take too long trying to make it perfect as you’ll still always have adjustments to make as you go.
You must be incredibly proud of your entrepreneurial achievements to date. What would you say have been your person highlights so far?
Seeing our product on the shelves of Sainsburys and a website such as Ocado is amazing. We have worked with some retailers such as Whole Foods since we launched and are still on the shelf today, it’s great to have been the first people to bring salmon skin crisps to the UK.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your everyday life?
I think you’re always thinking about the business 24/7. I like how being an entrepreneur you can do it from anywhere with the technology we have (especially now). You never know what’s coming, so unlike 9-5 where you have a routine, being entrepreneurs you never know what tomorrow holds.
How would you personally define success? Is it money, freedom, recognition or something else entirely?
As foodies, we enjoy creating new products and bringing them to market. I believe success would be seeing them in as many places as possible and seeing more and more people enjoying them. Success would definitely be a mix of those three things. I think it’s important we just keep focused on growing the business but making sure we celebrate each little success. To be able to continue working on growing our brand into an international success whilst being financially secure would definitely be a success, for sure.
Finally, what does the future hold? Do you have any other product launches planned?
We are currently set to launch another one of our products. Sea Snax, which is a dog treat product, will go into a supermarket in 2021 so there is lots of preparation for that. We are also set to start launching our products outside of the UK, with lots of trade shows (virtual) planned for 2021.