McGuire Alum Launches Sustainable Seafood Company
Martin Reed, BSBA Marketing and Entrepreneurship ’07
President, I Love Blue Sea
By Rebecca Ruiz-McGill, University Communications
Living in the Southwestern desert makes fresh seafood options limited. Add to this the goal of finding sustainable seafood, and you may just give up.
University of Arizona alumnus Martin Reed, a graduate of the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, persevered and now has made sustainable seafood his business.
I Love Blue Sea, a sushi-quality fish distributor based in San Francisco, is Reed’s month-old, web-based business that ships seafood around the country.
The McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, one of the top five of its kind in the country, brought the California native to Tucson. Because finding fresh, sustainable seafood around campus was difficult, Reed thought he might have a business opportunity on his hands.
After a year of research and consultation with Eller’s Sherry Hoskinson, managing director at the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, and Jim Jindrick, the mentor-in-residence, Reed became a seafood retailer who buys and sells sustainable, sushi-quality seafood.
Sustainability calls for maintaining the diversity and productivity of biological systems over time and for the responsible use of natural resources. In the seafood industry, this means ensuring that fish are caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. For consumers, it means eating seafood that’s abundant and well-managed.
Reed’s company looks to ensure that a balance is maintained.
“In researching the business, I learned how over-fished the oceans are. If the industry doesn’t change course and consumers don’t pressure them, there may not be a supply of wild seafood for the next generation,” Reed said.
“I also learned that fraud is rampant within the industry,” he added.
I Love Blue Sea bases its quality standards on guidelines established by Greenpeace and Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. Reed found distributors he could trust and sought to ship his seafood in a cost-conscious, eco-friendly manner.
The company is averaging two to five orders a day, and the furthest he has shipped has been to Florida. In the future, he would like to open other distribution centers so he can ship seafood within couple of hundred miles to lessen the company’s carbon footprint.
The company, though in its infancy, has been getting national attention and was featured in a New York Times article.
“The business is slowly building, but it’s already profitable because our overhead is so low. We understand there will be a learning curve for consumers because it’s a new way to buy their seafood,” Reed said.
Reed continues to meet with Jindrick, his Eller mentor, once a week to discuss the challenges his business faces, as well as to receive advice and encouragement.
“The McGuire Entrepreneurship Program is the best thing the UA has to offer,” Reed said. “It’s very hands-on. You basically spend an entire year starting a company — like I have been doing for the last year.”
Learn more about alumni ventures and other activities at the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship.