CEA Technology Winner: UNCW Grad Hooks Catchy Idea

By Emma Dill, posted May 3, 2024
TECHNOLOGY | Local Catch | Landon Hill, Founder & CEO | Year Founded: 2021 | Employees: 1 (Photo C/O Landon Hill)
In his final semester as a business student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Landon Hill received an assignment that would shape his early career.

A business professor challenged Hill and his classmates to create a “data-oriented business concept that leveraged Wilmington’s strengths as a coastal community.”

“Obviously, my brain started racing, and I knew I wanted to take this seriously because this could potentially be something I could take past school,” Hill said, “and fortunately, I was able to do that.”

He decided to focus on streamlining communication between the stakeholders in the local fishing and seafood industry – a sector that’s seen “little to no” innovation over the years, Hill said.

He pitched an app where commercial fishermen could post the type and amount of fish or seafood they had available, while seafood dealers, restaurants and individual buyers could post what they were looking to buy.

With a business plan in place, Hill’s professor encouraged him to build out the pitch. After graduating in 2020, he worked with Wilmington-based BlueTone Media for more than a year to develop the idea into an app called Local Catch.

In 2022, Local Catch launched in the app store and on Google Play. The app initially covered only coastal parts of the Cape Fear region, but it’s since expanded to cover the entire East and West coasts, the Gulf Coast along with coastal areas of Alaska and Hawaii due to demand, Hill said.

“We required quite a bit of demand before opening up in the area because if we had just commercial fishermen or just seafood markets requesting it, and we didn’t have … buyers aware of this coming to their area, it wouldn’t work – it would be all one-sided,” Hill said.

The app includes two key features. Commercial fishermen can create “In the Cooler” posts to advertise their available seafood. At the same time, buyers like fish markets, restaurants and individuals can make “Cast” posts to advertise the seafood they want to buy.

“It’s streamlining communication between the individuals and businesses that make up the seafood and commercial fishing supply chain,” Hill said.

In the past, communication has primarily relied on long term, sometimes generational, business relationships and lots of phone time, especially for small-scale retailers, Hill said.

The app has undergone more than 60 updates since it launched – a series of both minor and major changes that often incorporate user feedback, Hill said. Today, Local Catch is approaching 1,000 users.

Hill said he’s working on raising capital and finalizing the app’s revenue model. Local Catch is currently free for all users.

“With this being something that I’ve bootstrapped from the ground up, I’ve made the decision that now I’m interested in investors or grant opportunities help with funding,” Hill said.

He’s also working on a back-end program called Log Book that would allow research organizations to access some of the fishing data that’s entered into the app.

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