An ocean of opportunity  

Farah al Kindi,

Muscat: We’re targeting young people as well as families, providing them with fast and healthy food, says Eng Farah al Kindi, Founder & CEO, Sea Delight

What was the inspiration behind your business idea?

I saw an opportunity to take traditional Omani fish products and give them an innovative twist. We worked on improving recipes, testing products, streamlining production and supply chains, upgrading our branding, labelling and marketing. We wanted to produce quality fish products that could compete here at home as well as overseas.

 

What defines Sea Delight’s way of doing business?

We produce a number of fish products, ranging from traditional Omani Malleh and gourmet fish burgers to marinated cuttlefish. These items are special, for the fact that they’re created with traditional ingredients that set them apart from any others in the market. We’re offering unique Oman-made fish products.

 

Describe Sea Delight’s typical customer

We’re targeting young people as well as families, providing them with fast and healthy food. But from a bigger perspective, given population growth, climate crisis and concerns over sustainability people are changing their lifestyles, focusing on what they eat and where their food comes from. This shift in consumer mindset has led to an increased demand for fish. You’ve got to remember, fish is the primary source of protein for one billion people and a source of about 20% of the proteins consumed by another three billion people. It’s of critical importance. We want to help meet that consumer need with quality Omani fish products.

 

What were your biggest challenges when establishing your business?

We’ve faced any number of challenges, as all start-ups do. Perhaps worth mentioning were the difficulties we faced getting our products onto supermarket shelves and attracting young local talent to work in the fisheries sector. With the support of many great people we’ve overcome these challenges. In our first 12 months we created six jobs for Omanis, three part-time positions and took on three trainees. As we build our business, we’re creating job opportunities for others, that’s an achievement.

 

What drives you to be so enterprising?

Our approach to business is all about experimenting, we run tests; we look at the results, and use that data to inform our decision making. We also understand the need for flexibility, talking to our customer base and responding to their needs. To be a truly innovative entrepreneur you’ve got to keep dreaming, experimenting and seeking out new ideas, that’s what we do each and every day.

 

Is there one person in your industry that inspires you the most?

A whole host of people have inspired me along the way, Engineer Younis Zinati, an expert in fisheries processing has been a great help, guiding us on any number of business issues. His insight and advice has been invaluable. The women I work with are hugely inspirational, they’re such a motivation for me.

 

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

Everything is easier in hindsight. But if I had to do things over, I’d I spend more time working on our market strategy and the way in which we introduce new products, taking into consideration how long it takes to convert a consumer and build brand loyalty. One big thing I’ve learned is before we go chasing new customers, it’s important we keep existing clients happy. These are the people that reacted to our products and brand first and put their faith in us. Serving this loyal customer base is a priority and it’s this level of care that ultimately brings in new customers.

 

 

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Top of my list would probably include: learn to manage cash flow; establish ambitious but reachable financial goals; limit your fixed expenses in the beginning; time is money, don’t waste it; focus on customer care; have a strong digital presence, particularly on social media; network; and communicate, communicate, communicate.  

 

What’s next for Sea Delight?

We want to go beyond Oman’s borders, ideally exporting to one international market in the near future. We’re passionate about ramping up the role women play in our economy. Encouraging them to turn their ideas into businesses.

 

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