On the Half Shell and the Cloud
A software company in Castine has made growing oysters easier for farmers in Maine and beyond
Chip Terry was looking for a way to move back to Maine from Boston when he had a conversation with a friend at Bagaduce Oyster Company in Penobscot. The oyster farm had grown from its start as a two-person operation, and it had become increasingly difficult to manage. With labor typically being the highest cost at an oyster farm and mortality rates of oysters often ranging from 20 to 60 percent, Terry, who grew up in Southwest Harbor and Castine, saw an opportunity to use data and tech-nology to help oyster farmers like his friend as they scale their operations.
Oyster Tracker, which Terry started testing in 2018, provides farm management software that tracks oyster inventory, including their growth and mortality rates, and what work is being done. Information that was previously written and tracked on whiteboards at farms can now be input on an iPad and accessed from anywhere. Farmers can use the data to find out if certain husbandry methods are working well, and how best to deploy workers. “No one started oyster farming because they wanted to sit at a computer all day doing paperwork,” Terry says.
The Castine-based company, which has four full-time remote employees, along with Terry, has signed up 40 oyster farms around the world. Beyond Maine and New England, the startup has clients from the West Coast to Florida to Prince Edward Island to Ireland. After initially bootstrapping the company, Terry and his team raised a round of funding this past fall from the Maine Venture Fund, Branch Venture Group, and other individuals. “ Word of mouth really matters in this industry,” Terry says. “Having a farmer from Rhode Island talking to a farmer in Europe, explaining our product to him, leads to us having a sale in Europe, which is bizarre but happens all the time.”
2007 |722,000 POUNDS OF MAINE OYSTERS HARVESTED WORTH $1.6 MILLION
2017 | 2.8 MILLION POUNDS OF MAINE OYSTERS HARVESTED WORTH $6.7 MILLION