It’s been quite a ride! Gator and I formerly incorporated Coral Vita as a company back in August 2015, after we completed Yale’s summer accelerator for student entrepreneurs. We spent the better part of the next two years refining our business model, raising the funds we needed to launch our pilot coral farm, finding the best location to start operations, and recruiting some of the world’s leading coral scientists to advise us. Through the support of impact-focused funds, prizes, grants, and fellowships, and ocean champion angel investors like professional baseball player Max Scherzer, we secured the money we needed.
We then ultimately decided to partner with the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) and Grand Bahama Development Corporation (DEVCO) to build our pilot. Recognizing the immense value coral reefs provide to their island’s tourism economy, fishing industry, and coastal properties and infrastructure, supporting Coral Vita was a win-win for them. DEVCO leased us a plot of land alongside a canal with great water quality for next-to-nothing, and the GBPA helped facilitate the permits we needed to start our business in Grand Bahama. Fast forward to today, and we’re just a few months away from launching operations on the world’s first commercial land-based coral farm for reef restoration!
The Grand Bahama farm will serve as a proof-of-concept for our business model and restoration efforts. While growing up to 10,000 coral per year for restoration, our farm will serve both as a marine education center for local communities (who we plan to integrate into our projects as much as possible) and an eco-tourism attraction. Visitors to Grand Bahama can see coral farming in action on farm tours, pay to adopt coral or plant them with our team, and even get reef restoration SCUBA certification with local dive shops. We then plan to raise a Series A in about 18 months to support our first large-scale farms, growing hundreds of thousands or even millions of corals annually (which would be the biggest restoration effort ever). At this size, we then start selling restoration services to customers who depend on healthy reefs, such as hotels, developers, cruise lines, re-insurers, governments, and more. Ultimately, we envision a global network of land-based coral farms in each of the nearly 100 countries and territories with reefs around the world to preserve these incredible ecosystems for future generations.