Swedish Startup Space

Startup of the week: Fishbrain

Written by on April 23, 2013

Fishbrain is one of my favorite startups at the moment. Turning something as “unsexy” as fishing and fishing data into a buzzing startup is a serious achievement. I caught up with CEO Johan Attby for a quick chat.

Hi Johan, tell us about Fishbrain:

FishBrain was started by Jens Persson three years ago. Jens is an avid angler and wanted a solution for logging his fishing and sharing it with his friends and when he couldn’t find one on the market he started to build one himself. Like the majority of anglers he’s not an expert and needed some advice on when, where and how to catch more and bigger so that became an integral part of FishBrain and our tagline.

I’m sure you will disagree, but is ‘fishing’ kind of an unsexy space for a tech startup? Yet, you’ve managed to turn Fishbrain into one of the most talked-about Swedish companies this year. How?

I’m strongly disagreeing with that of course. I’ve met a remarkable high number of people in the startup community that are anglers and if they don’t fish themselves they certainly know people that do so they can relate to the need for a solution like FishBrain. There are 200 million people that fish globally so the odds are low that you know someone that fish. Personally I’ve always been interested in fishing. I’m born and raised at a farm so fishing and hunting have been part of how I grew up. Over the last ten years I’ve been so super busy being an entrepreneur so I only fish around 10 times a year. Hoping I can change that now!

You are the CEO of Fishbrain – but weren’t involved in building the product – tell us about how you became involved in Fishbrain:

No – I cannot take any credit from the amazing product the two founders have built. I started another software company before (Tific) and had a successful exit when it was acquired by a US company two years ago.

I’m absolutely not a big company guy and I doubt that someone that is sane would hire me so I knew I had to start another company. This time I promised myself it’d be in a space that I was personally passionate about and that left me with two choices: a digital platform for road biking or sport fishing.

I decided on the latter as I found out the market was huge and 20 times bigger than road biking. That was a lucky decision as Strava did the road biking thing very well. When starting up I found that two guys in Sweden – I’ve been living in Silicon Valley and Boston for a long time – had been working on a solution for two years so I decided to invest in the company and join the board.  When my lock-in after the acquisition was over I moved back to Sweden and became the CEO of FishBrain – a job that I love!

How have customers responded to the product so far? What markets are you looking to dominate?

Anglers love our app! It is rated 4.5 and we get positive responses every day from our fans. We have 25,000 registered users already, most are in Sweden but we see rapid growth in the US and Australia. This year we want to dominate the US and long term our focus markets are the Nordics, UK, the US, Australia, Japan, China and Russia.

When we met, you hinted at some interesting partnerships – can you tell our readers about any of those?

I’m afraid I cannot share who it is yet but we’ve signed a game changing agreement with one of the largest media companies in the world. They will sell and promote a co-branded app in the US and Canada with TV-ads and social media blasts. The press release should go out next week and the launch will happen soon after that.

What are the next steps for you guys?

Our focus is now on growing outside Sweden and we want to dominate the US market. Long term we are starting developing for Google Glass. The fit for anglers is exceptional!

Thanks Johan!

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