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  • Writer's pictureFaizan Arshad

Startups Aim to Optimize Supply Chain

Not so long ago, people would say Sheamus MacDonald has fishing in his blood. These days, however, MacDonald, 30, would more than likely be described as a tech entrepreneur, albeit focused on the fishery sector.

He’s the CEO of a Dartmouth-based Startup, which is developing systems that help optimize the supply chain in the fishing industry with a product called the Sedna Ecosystem. The Ecosystem follows a catch throughout the supply chain, so that information can be easily accessed to update purchase orders, sales orders, prices, inventories and product offerings moment-to-moment.

By using internet of things, a system of interrelated sensors, to transfer data over a network so that storage conditions such as temperature and water quality could be monitored, a premium product is ensured and spoilage avoided.

In recognition of his work MacDonald is being presented with the Mitacs Global Impact Entrepreneur Award on Wednesday, during a virtual awards ceremony.

Growing up in Judique, Inverness County, the son of a snow crab fisherman, MacDonald says he was always involved in the fishing industry in one way or another.

He earned his undergraduate degree in Aquatic Resources Management at STFX University in Antigonish, not far from his home. After his undergraduate degree, MacDonald says he headed west, briefly, to work in the oil and gas industry but eventually came back to the East Coast to work in Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore oil and gas sector as an environmental technician. “After a few years though..I wanted to get closer to fishing, so I came back home and went fishing with my father,” he explains.

It was while he was fishing that he decided to fo for a graduate degree in fisheries management from Memorial University of Newfoundland. And during his time off, MacDonald was working as a supply management consultant for a few companies to help them optimize their business.

It was during that time that MacDonald moved from actually fishing to becoming more involved in the business operations side of the fishing business. From there, he was able to identify some of the key problems most fishing operations had, which was mainly “identifying quality and making sure everything was coming though their supply chain.”

But it wasn’t until he was having a conversation with his formater roommate at STFX, Aleksandr Stabenow who was working in supply chain technology that the idea of creating a technology company to help the fishery was discussed.

“I was telling him what I was doing and he said, ‘Hey we could solve a lot of this with technology.’ And we kind of put our heads together and came up with the product and started the company,” says MacDonald. Besides being the co-founder of the company, Stabenow is also Sedna Technologies’ chief technology officer.

“I’m just finishing up my graduate degree in fisheries and Mitacs is an organization that helps academics trying to commercialize products. So a lot of the work I was doing was optimizing supply chains to reduce waste.. My whole thought is, ‘if you are going to harvest a product or a resource, just make sure it gets to market,” he says.

Sedna Technology’s Ecosystem product first came to market around November 2018. In 2019, the first full year of operation, MacDonald says the company had really strong sales “doubled what our expectations were and coming into 2020, again we were still trying to accelerate that growth.”

Sedna works across the entire supply chain, he says. “We work with harvesters, we also work with the buyers and exporters with holding facilities before the product is shipped overseas. Locally, some of his clients included Louisbourg Seafoods Ltd., Victoria Co-operative Fisheries Ltd, in Neil’s Harbour and the Ceilidh Fishermen’s Co-op Ltd. in Port Hood

“We focus with live product, although we do work with other species, we are able to track when it was caught and the conditions it was held in. We have a preemptive decision making tool so that they can see changes to the environment that may alter the health of the product.

Our whole mandate was to enhance and enrich the seafood supply chain,” says MacDonald.

Read more about Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards:

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