If a 10-ton truck shows up at a fish farm to pick up 10 tons of 1-kilogram rainbow trout but instead there are only 8 tons of 800g rainbow trout, what will the processing plant do? No, this is a not a set-up for a punchline or a math equation from a textbook.
It’s a problem that Evan Hall’s company can solve.
Evan is the CEO and co-founder of Wittaya Aqua, a data and analytics software company that helps with farm management. When you picture a farm, you may be picturing a red barn, green pastures and white picket fence with grazing chickens, pigs or cows. The farms that Evan works with are nothing like this.
Did you know that more than half of the seafood that ends up on your plate comes from fish farms? It’s such a big industry in fact that more tons of seafood are farmed every year than beef. What sets fish farms apart from on-land farms are the complexities that come with managing the animals. If you have a certain amount of chickens on a farm, it’s a lot less difficult to keep track of them than fish.
Imagine trying to count hundreds of thousands of shrimp swimming around in a pond that’s same colour of chocolate milk, it’s simply not possible.
Wittaya Aqua brings a data-driven approach that paints a more accurate picture of how many animals a farm has and how big they are. This approach makes important tasks for fish farms, like feeding the aquatic animals and selling them to processing plants, a lot easier. Essentially, Wittaya Aqua helps farmers make better decisions.
You may be wondering how Evan got into the very specific world of aquaculture. Well, he did his BScH at Queen's University in biology, focused on marine animals. With the degree under his belt, he worked as a fisheries biologist eventually pivoting into marketing and sales in fish and wildlife products. He realized that, in order to grow, he’d need some formal business training so he made his triumphant return to Queens University for his MBA.
Following a miserable year working for a bank we won’t name he started thinking “what the hell else can I do?”
Through a series of random conversations and networking, he met up with Doctor Dominique Bureau, a professor at Guelph University who was looking to get his fish farm software company up and running. Bureau talked about how rudimentary data collection was at fish farms and how unorganized the records are, Evan laughed recalling all of the paper records he had at his job years ago. They became co-founders, and Wittaya Aqua was born.
Being the co-founder of a startup is definitely not a walk in the park, or perhaps more aptly, a swim in the pond. But for Evan, the ability to be autonomous and build something that’s never been built is well worth it.
His trick for being a grounded entrepreneur is to always anticipate what’s going to happen next.
“At some points, I feel like I’m going to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, everything is going as right as it possibly could be, nothing could possibly go wrong,” says Hall. “And then usually when that happens, something goes terribly wrong and the feeling is ‘I’m going to be living under a bridge in a week.’ One of those two will happen first and the other follows.
It keeps me fairly grounded. When things are going well, I’m always trying to think ‘what’s going to go wrong’ and then vice versa.”
A big part of Evan's job is client or investor relations, which is how he ended up at Project Spaces. When Wittaya Aqua first launched, he looked at a lot of the traditional coworking spaces. He noticed that they were typically sterile with clean edges and a cookie-cutter look. He chose PS because of the personality.
“When I bring perspective investors or people from the government that are giving us grant money, it’s different from what they’ve seen before and it says something about our company,” says Hall. “We like a relaxed vibe.”
Check out their website to learn more about the innovative work of Wittaya Aqua, and if you'd like to surround yourself with passionate entrepreneurs like Evan, why not book a tour at Project Spaces? You never know who you'll meet!