1. Success Story

Online Fish Startups are Gearing up the Market in Kerala; Know How it Works

Aiswarya R Nair
Aiswarya R Nair

Pachameen (Fresh Fish) is a Whatsapp Group with 250 customers. It is an online fish delivery system founded by Jobin Ouseph, an MBA student. The tech-savvy entrepreneur started Pachameen during the nationwide lockdown. The 23-year-old is among several others from the coastal areas in the district who started home delivery of fish when the markets were closed during the lockdown caused by the pandemic.

Fish is an essential staple food for many people in Kerala. During the initial days of lockdown, when fish was hard to buy, social media was flooded with vendors, who needed just a Facebook page and a WhatsApp number to start home delivery of fresh fish. Not just Joshua, siblings Mohammed Rafi and Mohammed Althaf from Vizhinjam also decided to sell online fish.

For them, their initial customers were friends and relatives. However, when they realised the potential of the business, they started a Facebook page. According to Altaf, there has been a surge in the demand for fresh fish after stale fish was confiscated in large quantities and they cashed on that opportunity.

However, for Manoj Henal Silva, founder of Fish Story, it was the discrepancy in prices that “forced” him to start the venture. His family has been in the fisheries sector for several decades and supplying fish to the government as well as private enterprises.

For Vivek Vijayan, his customer base for Innathe Pacha Meen has tripled. Before lockdown, they had four WhatsApp groups, now they have 12. Vivek with his brothers Vaishak Vijayan and Vishak Vijayan arrange people at different landing centres to inform them when the catch arrives. It could be around midnight or in the wee hours of the morning, because they don't know when the boats will bring in the fish.

Cleaning charge is usually ₹20 and the delivery charges come in the rage of ₹20 to 40, depending on the distance to be covered. Some of them supply the fish in neat plastic containers that have to be cleaned and returned.

For the director of Fish Tales, Appu R Nair it was difficult for them to make the inroads into the business. However there are many challenges, these entrepreneurs are facing. According to Joshua, there have been days when no fish was bidded because of exorbitant rates. With so many vendors coming in, there is competition at the landing centres and was better for them to start on a small scale.

Also, there have been instances when traditional fish-sellers have raised objections against online vendors. Some of the newly minted entrepreneurs have plans to expand their network by covering more places in the district of Thiruvananthapuram.

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