Small-business owners, what are you doing to stand out from the crowd? Each week, we focus on an entrepreneur who has lessons to share that we think will resonate with other small-business owners.
Sean Dimin, co-founder of sustainable seafood supplier Sea2Table, answers our questions, answers our questions:
What are you doing to stand out from the crowd?
Our streamlined distribution system gives fisherman a faster, more direct channel to get their catches out to buyers than they can get from most other suppliers. In the traditional supply chain for fish delivery, a fisherman will sell his catch to a primary processor, who will then sell to a broker or wholesaler like Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market From there, distributors will purchase the fish and truck it to another location to be further processed and repackaged for final sales to restaurants and retailers. At Sea2Table, we help fishermen and primary processors package their catch for sale directly to restaurants, retailers and large institutional dining centers like college cafeterias. We’re able slash the average delivery time from six days to one day. And because we cut out the middlemen, we’re able to sell competitively priced fish to restaurants, as well as deliver greater profits to fishermen.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
Having the chance to prove that there are better ways to do business.
What’s the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
Managing expectations up and down the supply chain. When foul weather kicks up where our fishermen cast their lines, it can put a strain on our supply. And if a restaurant is expecting a certain species, it’s our job to explain that, when it comes to wild fishing, some situations are unavoidable. These conversations are never easy. However, to limit the effects inclement weather has on our supply chain, we work with multiple fishermen through various fisheries.
Name: Sean Dimin
Business: Sea2Table, a sustainable seafood supplier.
Industry: Food service
Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Year founded: 2004
Number of employees: 7
Web address: www.sea2table.com
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome?
Having to do everything and then learning our limits. When we first got started, we’d travel around the island of Tobago every night and buy individual fish from fishermen. We’d then quickly process, pack and airfreight fish off the island — delivering items ourselves directly to restaurants in New York City the next day. Not only was the full process a lot of work, but we found that we weren’t necessarily very good at all of it. After a number of years, we realized our core strengths, market position and growth potential. Now we work with a greater number of small-scale fisheries around the world and outsource our logistics to a Federal Express affiliate called PeriShip, which delivers to restaurants, retailers and large dining facilities anywhere in the country, overnight.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Getting into an unfamiliar business. Instead of spending time enhancing our competencies like logistics and relationship building, we found ourselves spending all of our time learning about running a processing plant. It took several years, but we eventually sold the plant to one of the company’s partners who had deep processing experience.
What’s the best business advice you can offer?
Surround yourself with the best people possible and listen to them. You don’t necessarily have to do what they say, but you need to listen.
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