Published March 3, 2023

2 minute read

Building a Resilient and Impactful Business: Lessons from Seafood Souq

In this session, Fahim Al Qasimi, Co-Founder and Chairperson of Seafood Souq, discusses the challenges and mission of his sustainable seafood sourcing company.

Session Speakers: 
Fahim Al Qasimi

Fahim Al Qasimi

Co-Founder and Chairperson, Seafood Souq

Loulou Khazen Baz

Loulou Khazen Baz

Managing Partner, Spade Venture

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Key Takeaways

  • Starting a business requires a lot of hard work and difficult conversations, and it is crucial to believe in what you are doing and to fundamentally believe in solving the problem you are solving.
  • Seafood Souq's mission to source fish in a sustainable way has not only made an impact in the food industry but has also attracted investors who took a bet on a business model that had not been done before.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic challenged Seafood Souq's growth, but the team's resilience allowed them to rally together and pick up the business, even taking pay cuts to show growth to investors. The experience also led to a growth of 300% in a month.
  • Seafood Souq's success story proves that the region can create its value proposition and innovate for the world. As Fahim Al Qasimi pointed out, "if you do what everyone is doing, you will get lost in the noise of everyone doing the same."

Seafood Souq, the leading sustainable fish supplier based in the United Arab Emirates, was the focus of a recent marketplace session titled "Success Stories in Entrepreneurship" moderated by Loulou Khazen Baz, Managing Partner of Spade Venture. The session featured Fahim Al Qasimi, Co-Founder and Chairperson of Seafood Souq.

Al Qasimi started the session by discussing what success means to him. He said that success is living in the place you want and the business field you want to be in. However, he also admitted that it's easy to talk about success now that it has been five years since the founding of Seafood Souq. No one talked about the company as a success story two to three years ago.

Seafood Souq's mission is to source fish sustainably, a challenge in the fish industry. Al Qasimi emphasized that asking where your fish is sourced and knowing what you're eating is essential. One in five fish is mislabeled, so you might not eat what you think you are eating. These were the questions that motivated the founding of Seafood Souq.

Seafood Souq's vertically integrated platform allows you to finance and trace seafood. Al Qasimi said that the company is not a start-up anymore because it chose to operate in a region that is a leader in the supply chain industry and cares about the food industry and food security. Seafood Souq is changing the world from the region, and it can be a global leader in seafood technology.

Al Qasimi talked about Seafood Souq's challenges during its early days. He funded the first phase, and then family members and angel investors supported him and his co-founder Shawn. They didn't have a business model that had been done before, so they were asked who their competitors were. They said no one, as no one had done this before. They ran out of money twice, and it was the most challenging time of Al Qasimi's professional life. Despite the hard times, Seafood Souq has grown into a successful company, with clients in 35 markets.

In conclusion, Seafood Souq's success story demonstrates the importance of passion and resilience in entrepreneurship. Al Qasimi advises potential investors to create tangible and intangible value for shareholders, do a resilient business, and innovate for the world. He believes the UAE is a global leader in the supply chain, aviation industry, defense, etc., and can produce the next wave of champions.

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