Finding our market fit at the world’s largest Seafood Expo

The Global Seafood Expo is the single largest seafood exposition held annually in Brussels, Belgium where the world’s most important seafood producers/exporters attend and exhibit their products, capabilities, innovations, brands and processes to their buyers, partners and distributors.

The Expo spans 9 halls (each seemingly the size of a football field), with industry players being split into different geographical regions — It’s an incredible achievement by the organizers to pull this off year after year and remain not only relevant, but provide such value to attendees and exhibitors.

We had just launched our platform (MVP — Minimum Viable Product, in tech terms) the afternoon we set off from Dubai to Brussels.

MVP means that our site was officially live and able to accept/fulfill orders which is really exciting. I can’t overstate what our team has achieved so far, it’s nothing short of incredible, and whilst the MVP launch is going to be limited to a small number of buyers and sellers to start, we will grow rapidly in our offerings and capabilities in order to cater to market needs/requirements.

Industry events can be incredibly useful from a high level point of view of ‘being seen’ however, little else is often achieved. We wanted to ensure we extracted the maximum amount of use possible for a new company like ours knocking on the door of an established industry to build a solid market fit. Our team went above and beyond each and every day and wow did we crash hard in the evening after being on our feet for 9 hours plus speaking with as many suppliers as humanly possible! Seafood Souq’s trip to Brussels was nothing short of incredibly valuable and successful.

So how did we get as much out of this event as we did?

We decided, given the scale of the event, and being a relatively new concept of B2B e-commerce for the seafood industry, it warranted taking a large team of individuals who specialize in different areas of the business so that we could ask questions that wouldn’t typically be asked by business development or the c-suite.

  1. MBD (Marketing & Business Development) — Conducting market research, collection and interpretation of data post-expo, speaking the same language as the suppliers, understanding the values of suppliers/ farmers/processors and promoting the Seafood Souq platform to suppliers of interest.
  2. Product & Tech — Focused on tailoring the existing platform features to how sellers do business and collecting the insights to generate new requirements for future value added features.
  3. Operations — Focused on procurement handling, Incoterms, supply chain management, traceability, minimum orders etc.
  4. Logistics — Establish preferred international shipping handling and last mile delivery systems currently employed or used by sellers.
  5. QA (Quality Assurance) — Find the critical control points in the product journey to maintain the highest level of traceability, quality (freshness) to maximise buyer satisfaction and eliminate the need for samples and claims against unsatisfactory products.

Prior to attending the Expo, the above teams set questions that they would like answered to help with their strategy fulfillment. By the time we boarded the flight for Brussels, each attendee knew the different teams’ requirements and questions by heart, and we would split off into pairs each day and conduct ‘customer conversations’ with as many suppliers as possible — Not only to learn about them, but more often than not, build familiarity with our offering and end up with a seller keen to be on-boarded onto the platform.

In short, we attended the Seafood Expo as a team in order to achieve the following 2 primary goals;

  • Customer conversations (Sellers) — in order to continue to validate our business model as well as to help with feature prioritization and product rollout we wanted to learn how the different sellers do business, how they handle procurement and what they would like to change about the existing process and what is most important to them.
  • Business development — Build brand awareness, promote Seafood Souq to seller-side users, start communication with and prioritize seller on-boarding targets and touch base with key account contacts.

We arrived in Brussels the evening of the 6th May and made our way to the Airbnb I had booked for us…(think University style house…we are after all, still a startup), 9 Seafood Souq team members under 1 roof!

Brussels is a beautiful European city, and I’m sad to say that aside from the jogs that I went for in the mornings before heading to the Expo, we really didn’t have time to tourist at all (investor money well saved!). Every team member worked tirelessly to gain as much information as possible each of the 3 days the Expo was on. As I sit here writing this, we are organizing and about to start going through the data sets collected so we can continue to develop Seafood Souq to meet our users’ preferences/requirements, and bring the best possible products to Dubai and the UAE!

Thanks for reading,

Sean Dennis

CEO & Co-Founder, Seafood Souq


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