OCEAN PARK — Willapa Wild LLC, which describes itself as “a company focused on the disruption of the shellfish and seafood industries,” recently announced raising more than $1 million for the continued incubation of their company. The firm is owned by Cora and Antony Barran.
The new investment came from Kalorama, LLC, a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund, according to June press release. The remainder of the investment came from the current incubator and angel investor: Bear Claw House, a local incubator of E-commerce focused digital companies. The cash infusion “will fuel and speed Willapa Wild’s expansion as the company seeks to advance the ability of consumers to connect directly with fisherman and shellfish farmers in the immediate area.”
Kalorama’s founders, Carley Roney and David Liu, will be joining the Willapa Wild’s board of directors.
“As consumers become more educated and concerned about the impacts of climate change and pollution on the environment, they are also becoming more sophisticated in their understanding of the impact their good consumption has on the environment,” Willapa Wild said. “This concern is driving them to find more sustainable and healthy options for both themselves and the planet. One significant aspect of that effort is the drive to close the distance and open transparency in the ‘farm to fork’ experience.”
Increasingly, this inclination is hampered by the complex distribution industries that work with fishermen, often taking the significant portion of the revenue and leaving the independent fisherman insufficient income. “This truly is one of the last industries to remain undisrupted by technology and the Internet,” Willapa Wild’s owners said.
“Our goal is clear — we want to provide consumers with a transparent, sustainable and healthy source of proteins that are good for the plant and the people that consume them, simultaneously taking back significant amounts of profit and returning it to the fisherman and farmers that are in such great need of support. We’re looking forward to working with our partners to scale this effective approach across the area and create a clear pathway to both the freshest and best product for consumers and living wages for the people that work within the fishing and shellfish farming industries,” said Antony Barran, Willapa Wild’s president.
Kalorama is the latest company to be founded by Carley Roney and David Liu. Most significant on their biography is founding the wedding website “The Knot,” along with its sister sites: “The Bump” and “The Nest.” In October 2018, The Knot was sold for $933 million to the Wedding Wire.
“We are thrilled Carley and David chose to invest in Willapa Wild. Their track record and abilities speak for themselves. At the same time, it’s a great thing that Pacific County can attract digital investment from a seasoned New York Venture Capital team if the right opportunity is created,” Barran said.
Liu explained his investment decision: “Willapa Wild has already proven to be a leader in building direct to consumer strategies for the sustainable farmed shellfish industry in the area. Through marketplaces like Amazon, they have partnered with leading companies like Ekone Oyster Co. and Taylor Shellfish [which merged in 2017] to complete the proof of concept that we look for in a digital investment. We are excited to help consumers buy and choose to eat sustainable food that is good for the environment. Finally, we are thrilled that this opportunity is primarily focused on the last pristine bay in the U.S., a resource we need to do everything we can to preserve it.”