The reality is, so far, she is swimming upstream with the development of the company.
“Things are going a lot slower than I hoped,” said Wooden, who won second place in the Business Plan Challenge Community Track. She spent a good part of the year working through government funding issues that still are not resolved. Because of this, investors are on the sidelines. “To be perfectly honest, I had expected to be further along in fund-raising,” said Wooden.
Still, she has made headway. Wooden’s plan involves hatching fish in a hatchery, then growing them to maturity in huge cages — some the size of football fields — 80 feet below the ocean surface. Those cages can cost $250,000, Wooden said, but improvements in the technology means costs are coming down and there is now an additional manufacturer in the market.
Agape Marine Ventures has added more scientific expertise. Two more marine biologists have joined the six-person team, bringing with them new connections and different specialties, said Wooden. For instance, the Delray Beach company is now working on growing feed more efficiently.
“Agape and I will continue making our way to the finish line.”
Your wedding day can be perfect without breaking the bank — if Darren Atinsky has anything to say about it.
Atinsky’s company, WedWu, the third-place winner in the Business Plan Challenge’s Community Track, offers a platform to bid on wedding services. The Davie-based company plans to take its concept nationwide this spring.
In beta testing in 2012, WedWu booked and serviced more than 120 brides and grooms, some of them on very short notice. WedWu.com allows customers to bid for services for photography, video and DJ, all by pre-selected and fully vetted vendors. About 40 percent of customers take more than one service, said Atinsky, co-founder and CEO. “Once they get the concept they are more apt to add additional [services.] We have more than 30 events booked into this year already.”
The payoff: Brides and grooms save an average of 40 percent over traditional services, said Atinsky.
He attributes much of WedWu’s recent success to the company’s social media push — about 60 percent of business has come through Facebook and other social sites.
WedWu, which also won last year’s Business Plan Challenge/Miami Innovation Fund “Geek Tank,” attracted new investment from the Miami Innovation Fund, which came in handy for its single biggest challenge this year.
That would be the actual programming of the concept to make it a fully automated system. “The industry has always been run on the personal touch. No one has ever automated this,” Atinsky said. That work is underway.
WedWu announced in July that Shawn Kernes, the founding CTO of StubHub (acquired by eBay), joined the team as a technology advisor. It also added a chief developer, Stephen Sperry.
What’s on the near horizon for WedWu? A full launch in April, and accompanying it will be a nationwide marketing campaign to introduce WedWu.
In time, WedWu plans to add more wedding services.
“WedWu is doing to the wedding and event industry what Priceline did for travel,” said Atinsky.