swimming with sharks
2 clever Houston seafood retailers dive into new episode of Shark Tank
Two Houston entrepreneurs are about to swim with the sharks. Melissa Harrington and Emily Castro, co-founders of online seafood retailer Fish Fixe, will appear on the episode of Shark Tank that airs this Friday, November 12 at 7 pm.
Established in 2017, Fish Fixe ships frozen, portioned seafood from Sugar Land to homes across the country. The business evolved out of Lonestar Seafood, Harrington's Houston-based wholesaler that supplies fresh seafood to restaurants and grocery stores. She tells CultureMap that she started getting portioned servings of seafood at home to make it easier to cook healthy dinners for her family.
“Even though we had a warehouse full of beautiful fish, it wasn’t convenient. I had my husband start portioning and freezing seafood,” Harrington says. “It became a new lifestyle habit for us. Instead of chicken or beef, we were eating fresh fish.”
She started sharing fish with her friend, Emily Castro, who immediately saw an opportunity. They launched the business in 2017 and grew it slowly — at least until the COVID pandemic sparked immense growth in delivery and home cooking.
“When the pandemic hit, the light bulb went off. A lot of people jumped on board,” Castro says. “In 2020, we grew 400-percent. It’s been great ever since.”
All that growth brought logistical problems. Fish Fixe’s boxes include shipping, which caused costs to spike as orders flooded in from people on the East and West Coast. The company needed an expert with experience and capital to help it manage the growth in a sustainable way. Enter the sharks.
“We had a distribution problem that we had to figure out how to solve,” Harrington says. “Without Emily’s knowledge or consent, I applied online for Shark Tank. What better way to get a brilliant business mind, capital, and some exposure. It’s a winning ticket for a small, growing business.”
Obviously, the duo are sworn to secrecy about whether they found an investor until the episode airs. Castro acknowledges they had some ideas about the size of investment and ownership stake they wanted to offer the sharks, but owning the company outright gave them a lot of flexibility in the negotiations.
“We really went in looking for a partner. We had a plan, but we were open,” she says. “We said we’d know if it was right.”
Tune in to ABC13 Friday night (or beginning Saturday on Hulu) to see how they did.