Fishing Scheme: Artificial Intelligence for an Authentic Solution

Jan 30, 2018

At NEA, we are constantly on the lookout for talented entrepreneurs, and unique applications of innovative technologies. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to find both in the same place—as we did with Bryton Shang and Aquabyte.

Today, we are thrilled to announce our investment in Aquabyte, a startup applying computer vision and machine learning models to optimize fish farming efficiency. My partner Greg Papadopoulos and I are leading this investment on behalf of NEA.

Having a primary focus on the consumer technology and digital media sectors, NEVER did I think I would invest in a deep technology-based fish-farming company! However, our investment represents our philosophy as much as it represents the outcome of a market analysis. Philosophically, at the early stage, we simply want to work with the best people. And Bryton is one of the best young entrepreneurs we’ve met.

Bryton and I initially met at Princeton, where he was the top student in the Operations Research department. We kept in touch as he worked on other startups in his first few years out of school. When Bryton approached me a few months ago to brainstorm ideas for his next project, I suggested he spend some time with NEA to generate a compelling idea. I looped in Greg, who had been working on a broad thesis —solving hard ROI problems with AI and ML.

Bryton embraced the broad mandate, which led him to explore the aquaculture market. From Bryton, we learned that this is a massive $160B market which can help solve many of the world’s food challenges over the coming decades. Bryton dug through research papers and spoke to dozens of farm owners and operators to determine where technology could play a valuable role.

Over the first few months of working together, Bryton has exceeded our expectations. His velocity of execution, his tenacity, and his “always learning” mentality are all qualities we look for in the entrepreneurs with whom we partner.

Bryton’s qualities were also evident to other investors When we decided to open Aquabyte’s Seed Round, the demand was overwhelming—we were multiple times oversubscribed. Bryton had a difficult time selecting a second major partner, but his decision eventually led to Costanoa, a firm that I’ve admired from afar that has already made a significant difference for Aquabyte already. Their hands-on, long-term mentality is highly consistent with NEA’s values, and we are thrilled to collaborate with the Costanoa team.

Thanks to Bryton, we’re putting talent and capital into a massive market hungry for technological improvement. We look forward to our continued partnership with Aquabyte, as they pioneer a more efficient way for fish farms to contribute to the global food supply.