The Forum for Women Entrepreneurs crowned its 2019 winner at the Odlum Brown Pitch for the Purse Gala on Thursday, February 21, and our very own co-founder and CEO, Sonia Strobel, walked away with the prize!
The Pitch for the Purse is a national mentorship program for women entrepreneurs that helps them succeed in business. Sonia was one of over 200 applicants to the program last fall and was selected as one of 24 semi-finalists. These 24 semi-finalists – 12 in Vancouver and 12 in Toronto – pitched to an audience of guests and a panel of judges in the semi-finals in November. Each of the three judges chose a finalist to coach through to the gala finale this past week. Sonia was selected as a finalist by mentor Ali Pejman, partner at Fort Capital along with other finalists Patrice Mousseau of Satya Organic Eczema Relief, and Jessica Oblak of Copper Medical.
“It’s been an incredible experience having so much mentorship and support from the FWE. It’s given me enormous confidence that, not only are we doing the right thing for fishing communities, Canadian seafood lovers, and the environment, but what we’re doing also makes good sense from a business perspective,” said Sonia.
Sonia and the other finalists pitched before an audience of 670 guests and two celebrity judges at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver last week at the Pitch for the Purse Finale. The celebrity judges, Kate Ross LeBlanc, Founder and CEO of Saje Natural Wellness, and Amar Doman, Founder of The Futura Corporation, asked questions and guided the audience on what to look for in voting for a winner. In the end, the 670 guests voted live via text at the event and chose Sonia to win the cash prize of $25,000!
The audience clearly loved Skipper Otto’s unique model for solving some of the biggest challenges facing the seafood industry today. Skipper Otto is a sustainable seafood subscription program that lets seafood-loving home-cooks across Canada buy their seafood directly from BC fishing families.
Normally, when you buy seafood, you’re faced with a whole raft of problems: massive-scale factory boats, overfishing, and slavery are commonplace. Oceana Canada reports that roughly half the seafood you find in grocery stores and restaurants is not what it says it is on the label! In addition, 70% of the seafood you can get in Canada is imported while 90% of Canadian seafood is exported. So, you can’t even get Canadian seafood most of the time. Meanwhile, a traditional way of life is disappearing in our coastal communities because BC fishing families are paid pennies on the dollar for their beautiful catch.
This is where Skipper Otto comes in. Our unique model is disrupting a broken seafood industry. Members pre-purchase a share of the catch before we even go fishing, guaranteeing fishing families a living wage for their catch, and helping preserve their traditional way of life. Members can login to the online platform, see exactly what’s being caught, and choose the exact items they want. And, you don’t have to live in Vancouver to be a member! Skipper Otto has members across Canada who pick up their seafood from one of 28 convenient neighbourhood locations across Metro Vancouver and as far away as Toronto.
So, you might ask, what’s the catch? Well, the great news is that when you cut out all the “middle men” there’s room for fishermen to get paid living wages and for members to pay prices similar to what they’d pay elsewhere for a quality product! It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Sonia’s passion for her business shone through at the finals, and she comes by that passion honestly. The Strobel family has been fishing the west coast for over 50 years. The company’s namesake, Skipper Otto, is her father-in-law, and her husband and co-founder, Shaun, grew up fishing. Shaun even went on to write his master’s thesis on the history and political economy of the industry, so the Strobels really know their stuff. Skipper Otto offers home-cooks the seafood they simply can’t get anywhere else, and every piece of seafood is packaged with the face and story of the fisherman who caught it. Those fishermen take pride in their work, and the difference in the quality of their catch is immediately noticeable.
“Love the fish and seafood we get from Skipper Otto’s. My husband is from Atlantic Canada, and we had a hard time finding fresh and delicious seafood prior to joining Skipper Otto’s. Highly recommend joining to any of my friends,” says Skipper Otto member Aaron.
Co-founder, Sonia Strobel, was a special guest on the Business in Vancouver Today podcast and talked about her journey with Skipper Otto. Listen to her story here.
Join Skipper Otto in creating a sustainable future for fishing families and the seafood industry and enjoy some of the best seafood you’ll ever taste!
Celine - February 26, 2019
Skipper Otto Wins Pitch for the Purse!
Celine - February 26, 2019