In Founder Focus we introduce entrepreneurs and innovators working on our next generation of new business startups, social enterprises and small businesses.

At a glance

Founders: Ralf Klis & Lucas Tracewski

Business: Code & Caviar

Founded: 2021

HQ: Manawatu

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Code and Caviar is a cutting-edge precision aquaculture startup that has revolutionised the mussel farming industry with an innovative management platform – Mussel App. Our solution offers real-time, reliable information and suggestions through the use of AI and other advanced technologies, addressing operational and environmental challenges in the industry. By significantly reducing costs and promoting the growth of aquaculture, Mussel App is set to transform the industry landscape, starting with New Zealand.

At Code and Caviar, our mission is to utilise advanced technology and data from multiple sources to promote the growth of the blue economy worldwide, spanning across different species.

What’s the backstory for your business idea?

After successfully running my first startup, FutureLab for many years and building numerous solutions for other businesses, I had an urge to do something different; something that would change the world. By accident, we became involved in an aquaculture project that made us realise how amazing shellfish are as a species, and how much work aquaculture needs for growth.

Armed with our R&D and IT experience, we partnered with farmers and solved their problems by simply asking how technology could assist them. It was incredibly enjoyable, and you can imagine how exciting the first boat trips were. An IT guy in gumboots, walking on a boat’s deck, equipped with sealegs, observing one of the hardest farming jobs miles off the shore. It was love at first sight, or rather, love after the first bout of nausea!

What programmes, learning or mentoring have been of assistance so far?

  • We received tremendous support from the local community and industry, and we successfully completed two programs: the Sprout Accelerator and the Ministry of Awesome Founder Program.
  • We also spoke with many individual investors who provided us with valuable insights. Our recommendation is to schedule meetings with investors even if you are not raising funds. Since this world was so unfamiliar to us, it was beneficial to receive feedback, and the Ministry of Awesome’s regular office hours with investors were invaluable. It’s essential to have thick skin because you’ll hear a lot of feedback, and some of it may not be favourable. However, it’s all a learning experience. Treat feedback the same way you would treat your product – iterate through it, fix what needs fixing, and ask for more feedback.
  • It was also quite important for us to have an industry advisor and our advisor Eitan Sessler helped us navigate through aquaculture industry. While we have huge R&D, science and software experience – we simply needed more insights from the aquaculture itself.
  • Finally, it’s crucial to support the industry. Even if you have years of experience and significant connections in the industry, nothing gave us a more significant edge for our startup than sitting with different industry players and just listening to them. Ultimately, you’re looking to solve a problem for hundreds, even hundreds of thousands of clients, and only after hours of listening can you come up with a scalable solution that works.


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