The Boost VC Podcast

Ep. 87: Opportunities in Ocean Tech—with Liané Thompson of Aquaai

Episode Summary

Liané Thompson is the cofounder and CEO of Aquaii, a B2B startup using AI, computer vision, machine learning and biomimicry to create ecofriendly robotic fish to monitor below the surface and gather sophisticated data from the ocean. Prior to Aquaai, Liané spent 20 years in media, serving as a radio reporter, video journalist, TV producer and media executive.

Episode Notes

Prior to 2016, no proper study had been done around the economics of the ocean. At the time, the ocean economy was estimated at $1.5 trillion and expected to reach $3 trillion by 2030. In fact, the ocean has the potential to solve several of humanity’s biggest problems, and the opportunities in ocean tech are as vast and deep as the ocean itself.
Liané Thompson is the cofounder and CEO of Aquaai, a B2B startup using AI, computer vision, machine learning and biomimicry to create ecofriendly robotic fish to monitor below the surface and gather sophisticated data from the ocean. Prior to Aquaai, Liané spent 20 years in media, serving as a radio reporter, video journalist, TV producer and media executive.

Today, Liané joins us to explain the work they do at Aquaai, sharing how she made the jump from journalist to ocean tech entrepreneur. She shares her approach to climate deniers and walks us through Aquaii’s evolution as a business. Liané also discusses the team’s decision to form a company rather than a nonprofit and what differentiates Aquaai from the traditional Silicon Valley startup. Listen in for insight around the economics of the ocean and learn about the vast opportunities in the ocean tech space.

Topics Covered

The work Aquaai does
Robotic fish gather data from ocean
‘Intelligence below the surface’

How Liané got into the ocean tech space
Met Simeon (‘Q’ of Israel) as journalist
Promise to his daughter to save seas

The evolution of the Aquaai clownfish
First iteration 12 inches long (auto Tweet photos)
Current 1.5-meter fish gathers sophisticated data
Swim in fish farms supplying salmon to Whole Foods

Liané’s transition from journalist to entrepreneur
Desire to keep learning after return to US
Idea to turn promise to Emily into business

Liané’s response to climate deniers
Encourage to read, observe extreme weather
More concerned with educating people on fence

The Aquaai trajectory as a company
Early interest from global reinsurers
Reached out to fish farmers (pilot partners)

The greatest challenges in the ocean tech space
Underwater conditions (salty, cold + can’t see)
Technology unbelievably expensive

How Aquaai differs from a typical Silicon Valley startup
Not MIT or Stanford scientists
Tough and experienced

Aquaai’s decision to form a company rather than a nonprofit
No desire to ask for money entire career
Found their people in B2B aquaculture

The economics of the ocean
At least $1.5T in 2016, $3T by 2030
Solve food, water and energy problems

Liané’s 10-year vision for Aquaai
Key in changing perception and behavior
Channel to show ‘good, bad and ugly’

Connect with Liané

Aquaai https://www.aquaai.com/

Aquaai on Twitter https://twitter.com/aquaaicorp

Aquaai on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Aquaai/

Aquaai on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/aquaai-corp/

Liané on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/lianethompson/

Liané on Twitter https://twitter.com/lianethompson

Resources

The Fish on My Plate Documentary http://pbsinternational.org/programs/fish-on-my-plate-the/

‘The Ocean Economy in 2030’ by Claire Jolly https://www.oecd.org/sti/ind/Session%201_b%20-%20Claire%20Jolly%20-%20Web.pdf

Connect with Boost VC

Boost VC Website https://www.boost.vc/

Boost VC on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/boostvc/

Boost VC on Twitter https://twitter.com/BoostVC