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Sea Going Green: Empowering the tourism industry to promote ocean conservation

Please introduce yourself and your startup Sea Going Green to our readers!
Ally has been travelling since she was 1 years old and hasn’t slowed down since. Living in 6 countries by the age of 21, her passion for travel has only grown. Her international background (Croatian/Serbian/Canadian) is what sparked an early passion for travel, which led her to Amsterdam in 2014. There, she completed an MSc. in Oceanography and Limnology and worked as part of the WWF-NL team that lead a reintroduction program of rays into the North Sea! Previous to that she also earned a honors undergraduate degree in Biological Anthropology, Biology & Environmental Biology from the University of Toronto & National University of Singapore in which she gained a wealth of theoretical knowledge and hands on practical skills and explored the delicate interactions between humans and nature.

Throughout her studies Ally has worked on a wide variety of projects including; the effects of heavy metal pollution on beluga whales in the St Lawrence Estuary; the adaptive potential of pteropods along a natural gradient of ocean acidification; and the genetic diversity of the Thornback Ray in the North Sea. Check out her LinkedIn profile to read more about her projects: www.linkedin.com/in/allydragozet. It is Ally’s love for travelling and the ocean that drives her commitment towards sustainable tourism. She believes that sustainable tourism through sustainable business is a key step towards protecting the integrity of the ocean and its biodiversity.

Sea Going Green is an environmental consultancy enterprise whose mission is to protect the integrity of the oceans by promoting sustainable tourism through sustainable business.

We want to use the transformative power of the tourism industry as a catalyst for sustainable use of the natural environment. Due to over fishing, pollution, coastal development, climate change, the ocean is under more pressure than ever. Coupled with the rapidly growing tourism industry it is essential that tourism operators protect the assets that attract visitors in the first place: the environment and its wildlife.

At Sea Going Green we provide consulting services to tourism companies who want to implement sustainable practises to alleviate their negative impact on the marine environment. Using our services results in financial benefits for the client by acquiring more customers, achieving awards and accolades and cutting costs as well as receiving tax incentives.

How did you get the idea to Sea Going Green?
As I have been travelling for 25 years I have seen the negative impact of the tourism industry on the marine environment and was searching for a way to face this challenge head on. After working in the tourism industry for 5 years and while studying and working in the marine biology field over 5 years I wanted to find a way to marry my two passions together. This is when Sea Going Green was born. I wanted to consult in an environment I knew well and to make an environmental impact in the marine environment.

How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
Going from marine biologist to entrepreneur was definitely a difficult learning curve, but with the help of the ACE (Amsterdam Centre for Entrepreneurship) accelerator program I have been able to make the transition. Additionally, building a team around me with different skills and backgrounds who still share the same mission to #GoGreenForTheBigBlue has been a major contributor to all of our current traction. A challenge that I have had to overcome is selectively picking the right people for our team as the right team member can accelerate your growth, but the opposite can do the opposite unfortunately. Another challenge is working completely bootstrapped without external funding, thankfully this only lasted the first 9 months!

Who is your target audience?
Our target audience for our consulting services is the Tourism Industry, specifically Tourism Companies with marine related activities such as yachting, diving and sailing. Currently, we are focusing on the Mediterranean market. We also want to build a community of sustainable tourists, which is why we started our blog platform as industry pioneers we want our blog to stimulate and lead the conversation and become the hub for thought provoking blog posts in sustainable tourism and #marine conservation. We are currently also looking for more blog contributors to reach our milestone of 100 contributors by 2020 who are passionate about #SustainableTourism and want to #GoGreenForTheBigBlue .

What is the USP of your startup?
The unique selling point of Sea Going Green is that is was founded by marine biologists who know the marine environment and have worked in the tourism industry that they want to consult and empower to promote ocean conservation. As consultants, we are uniquely compared to our competitors, which are mostly in Corporate Social Responsibility that provide report cards to grade the sustainability of a company, whereas we make custom plans to strategize and implement changes directly with the company.

Can you describe a typical workday of you?
Ha ha “typical workday” isn’t something that exists in my start up vocabulary so far. But usually I meet with my team at our office at the Start Up Village in Amsterdam and have a team strategy meeting every Monday and have at least 2 meetings a day with potential clients and strategic partnerships that we are in the process of developing. On Fridays we are still doing workshops with our ACE accelerator program and try to end our Fridays with a typical Dutch “vrijmibo borrel” for team building 😉

Where do you see yourself and your startup Sea Going Green in five years?
In 5 years I see myself further scaling my start up Sea Going Green, I want to get into clean tech eventually to target marine plastics for the efficiently up-cycle of the plastics being taken out of the ocean and to find innovative uses for them. In five years I hope Sea Going Green has expanded globally to the Caribbean, South East Asia, South Africa, and Australia and that we have advised some cruise-ships to #GoGreenForTheBigBlue.

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
Be resilient
Fail forwards
Use your network, ask for advice!

More information you will find here

Thank you Ally for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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