We introduce a great example for fishery-related service and digital application from the Faroe Islands – Fishfacts. The project also is a very good case study for a digital business community around an important cluster. Much learning can be deducted and used for other communities and ecosystems in how to focus, build commercial tracks and service to provide.
Hanus Samró and Óli Samro are the founders – and Hanus explains in this chat what Fishfacts is all about:
Q: Hanus, we are super curious about learning more about Fishfacts – who are the target groups?
A: 90 % of all users and subscribers come from outside the Faroe Islands, mainly from the North Atlantic region – We cover geographical area of anywhere between East Coast of Canada over to the eastern part of Russia.
We had planned to attend a range of international exhibitions this year, to explore further international collaboration and expand into other leading markets for the fishery industry, like South America. But – you know the reason why we could not attend these exhibitions … Having said that, we managed to get one client in South America anyways!
Q: When did you start with the website (we have website and APP) and what was the main objective of the project?
A: We started in April 2018 – so it is only 2,5 years that Fishfacts is in the market. We developed this Application to provide service and to make life easier for the fishery industry and its stakeholders.
My Father, who is the “brain” of the project, has published a book in 2016 (unfortunately no longer available) about “Fisheries – multiple systems”, which was printed in Faroese, Norwegian and Icelandic language, and based on his long professional experience as an economist and fisheries consultant.
Q: Do you have competitors – are there other apps or websites offering similar service?
A: We are the only ones who focus purely on “who is fishing the fish in the ocean” – only movements of fishing vessels and related services to the fishery industry are taken into account – other apps track and connect all kinds of ships in the oceans, but do not particularly service fishing trawlers.
Q: What services do you offer through Fishfacts:
A: We follow different service tracks:
- Satellite AIS tracking systems for skippers: we provide access to a platform to track and trace fishing vessels. As you can imagine, they all search for fish, so the tracking system helps skippers to see where nearby vessels are moving and what vessels these are. Agreements between countries – like the Faroe Islands have with the EU – regulate the fishing permissions and tracking via signals is obligatory. So skippers use this tracking while on sea, or at home. In addition, we offer information about each vessel’s owner for:
- Analytics: The second track is to provide information about each owner’s financial performance – the fishery business is very competitive, we prepare financial information which is publicly available for comparison and background information. No rating or any judgment is involved here, this kind of analytics are important both for the shipowners and stakeholder, i.e. banks, investment companies etc., which is the third track we offer:
- Selling equipment to ship owners and vessels: a subscription based service allows presenting and selling globally. The community offers targeted, language-related access to selected clients, like to Russian clients in Russian language.
Q: How is the internet connectivity on sea – is it strong enough for the skippers’ tracking system?
A: As these ships are big commercial vessels, the connectivity is generally good and sufficient. In the beginning the amounts of data to process were a bit of a challenge, but we have worked on that end and now our app and website does require only little volume of internet connectivity.
Q: How many commercial vessels do you have in your community ?
A: We track more than 4000 vessels worldwide (and have more than 500 big vessels as clients), from 18 different countries.
Q: How about the technology for the app and website?
A: The programming was done by the 3. Partner of our company, a tech developer who was prior to this project involved in high security projects like internet banking etc. In fact, our partner was CTO in a Dutch bank that was sold to Germany last year. So all necessary security issues are well covered in Fishfacts.
Q: did you start the company through a promotion program for start-ups?
A: No, we did it all by ourselves – from scratch. It is a family business, I own it with my father but my sister is also working for us here in the Faroe Islands.
Q: You announced a virtual fishery industry event for this summer. Did that happen?
A: As mentioned before, we actually had planned a major marketing boost for 2020 and wanted to join 8 international exhibitions. As all of those were cancelled, we decided to run one event by ourselves instead. All virtual and digital, a first-timer in this industry!
As the major shipowners are clients of our platform, we created a virtual exhibition, so that service providers could connect with our shipowners. We judge the success of the event by the fact that direct orders were initiated during the exhibition, so that could be a 4th service track to follow in the future J.
Q: Hanus, what is your personal background – are you coming from the fishery industry?
A: No, I have been doing a bit of everything. I have written a few books, was a politician and I finished my masters degree in political science a few years ago. But in my heart I was always an entrepreneur, so when I was not re-elected, I chose to walk this road. I love what I am doing now.
My father is an economist, working as an consultant on a strategically level his whole career. So he is the brain, I am the marketing and commercial guy.
Q: What are the next steps for Fishfacts and how do you see the potential for attracting international conferences to the Faroe Islands in your domain. Will you support Visit Faroe Islands Meetings in exchanging your knowledge at such conferences? Or even attract fishery related meetings yourself?
A: We want to expand our international audience, but will keep the service strictly commercial. Of course, we are highly interested to help the Faroese businesses in our sector and there are different options to attract or attend such events. We will have to see what direction this all will take. This is all a new reality with many opportunities for all of us!
Thanks, Hanus! Great talking to you – very inspirational and motivating. Good luck for all your plans and congrats for the fabulous idea!