HOW IT ALL BEGAN...
How did you come up with the product idea?
Julian: It all started in 2019 when I travelled the world, surfing at the most beautiful beaches. I read a book called "Future Foods", which dealt with the future of nutrition. Having learned so much about Future Foods, I had to get my hands on one of the products and traveled to California to try the so-called Impossible Burger. The burger delivered just what it promised: burger taste at its best, made from plants.
I was eager to understand more about "Future Foods" and kept digging deeper and deeper into existing research and data. I spent so much time in the ocean and wondered: „why are there only meat alternatives, but hardly any fish alternatives?“. That was when I realised that there has to be a market for it and the idea of developing a vegan shrimp alternative was born.
The idea for plant-based seafood was born – but how did that actually turn into a business concept?
Julian: Through mutual friends I got in contact with Christina. She’s a nutritionist, eating vegan herself and highly educated in the topic of healthy nutrition. My idea sparked her interest and pitching her my business proposal, she was immediately on board. We started developing a first prototype, which showed sufficient potential and I decided to pursue the idea with my entire focus. But I was aware that such an immens project required a lot of support; that was when my good friend and former colleague Robin came into play.
THE BIRTH OF HAPPY OCEAN FOODS.
And how did you two turn this idea into a business?
Robin: I met Julian at an e-commerce start-up for nutrition and health products and am quite aware of the market behind it. I am also a vegetarian and enthusiastic surfer – so you see, I share a lot of common ground with him. When Julian pitched me his idea, I was immediately thrilled to get my hands on it. So I decided to quit my job in order to pursue the project in full-time.
Julian and I worked out the business plan, while our small R&D team conducted further experiments. We also seeked a food scientist, to bring even more expertise in the product development and that the team could apply for the Exist grant. Through this, we met Christina, who pushed the product development even further. She enabled the team to apply for the Exist grant, which granted us access to the research staff and equipment of TUM, as well as to the ones of HSWST. This enabled us to bring our prototype to perfection.
THE CREATION OF THE BRAND
Julian develops the first design together with a designer during his stay in Buenos Aires. The logo and colours are not yet convincing.
The designer creates about 20 different logos, while Julian and Robin worked on the CI and tested about 50 colour palettes and numerous mood boards. In the end, the two adopted their own proposal with their favourite colour selection.
The Happy Ocean Foods logo shows the ocean at sunset (sun + wave).
Exist scholarship as funding:
Robin and Julian work on their application for the Exist scholarship for over two months.
Application successful: a grant over €118k was given to cover salaries and buy in-kind resources.
Ecosystem building through various incubators & accelerators:
Successful participation in the Xpreneurs program, as well as in the LMU Accelerator.
This allowed access and connection to mentors, investors and other startups.