Arron Kallenberg of Homer (seen here at Bristol Bay) created Wild Alaskan Company, a “tech company that sells fish.”
Many Alaska fishermen or groups who are marketing boxes of seafood directly can boast several hundred monthly subscribers.
The Wild Alaskan Company based in Homer has notched more than 140,000 seafood lovers nationally since 2018 and since Covid hit, it’s adding up to 200 customers every day.
Founder Arron Kallenberg calls it a “three generation overnight success” referring back to 1926 when his grandfather moved from New Jersey to fish Bristol Bay.
“My dad grew up fishing with my grandfather, I grew up fishing with my father, but that being said, I was the nerdy kid that took his laptop out to sea in Bristol Bay.”
Kallenberg went on to work in the internet field for nearly two decades. A few years ago he opted to walk away and create a tech-enabled marketing and logistics company to sell Alaska seafood. It now puts 40 people to work remotely in regions across the U.S.
“We have the ability through social media and digital based, data driven advertising to attract members to the membership service. And we have an incredible amount of proprietary software that manages a very complex, nationwide frozen fulfillment network that allows us to ship fish across the country at very reasonable rates. So it was those two aspects of the business that did give the company quite a bit of early success. And then, of course, recently we’ve sort of reached critical mass.”
Wild Alaskan Company sources seafood from across the state from large and small providers, and the mix of frozen portions in three boxed options is dictated by supply. The seafood is sent to what will soon be seven fulfillment centers across the U.S. The company’s software manages the inventory and orders in a way that minimizes both cost and shipping distances.
“Our software has some pretty sophisticated technology that will curate a box of fish for a member in one part of the country based on the availability of certain species inside the supply chain. There’s levers and checks and balances that the procurement team can put in place to ensure that all of our members receive a diverse combination of fish. But the flexibility that the software provides us allows us to really decentralize this supply driven model in different regions of the United States. That’s something that’s pretty unique from an e-commerce perspective. Typically, e-commerce companies will have to maintain the same level of inventory across one or two facilities.”
Reducing the carbon footprint from shipping is a goal of what Kallenberg calls his “mission based company.”
The U.S. has unknowingly downgraded its seafood supply, he says, “by exporting the best and importing the worst.” He hopes to help change that pattern.
“Our mission is to accelerate humanity’s transition to sustainable food systems. And I believe that Alaska can set an example globally. I think that in order to do that, Wild Alaskan has to become a big business so that we can shift the consumption habits away from these unsustainable options into America’s own backyard. The carbon footprint implications of fish going round trip to another country, or farmed salmon coming in from another country are ridiculous.”