Updated Feb 19, 2020

Mike Mitchell

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We're taking the hated and feared armored catfish or 'devil fish' as it's known colloquially in Mexico and transforming it into a tasty, nutritious product to increase employment in rural fishing communities.

We are developing an industry around the invasive devil fish in Mexico and the US, creating new economic opportunities using a fish previously discarded as by-catch. The concept of our work is simple - train local fishermen to process and package fillet, in turn, providing a valuable new source of employment while mitigating environmental damage caused by the devil fish. Our employees now earn ...
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We are developing an industry around the invasive devil fish in Mexico and the US, creating new economic opportunities using a fish previously discarded as by-catch. The concept of our work is simple - train local fishermen to process and package fillet, in turn, providing a valuable new source of employment while mitigating environmental damage caused by the devil fish. Our employees now earn on average 40% more than they did previously. We have a small scale processing facility and are building out a franchise system whereby we provide the technical expertise and distribution logistics for local entrepreneurs to setup their own processing facilities. We then manage the logistics to send frozen fillet to the US and Canada where we work with co-packers to create our El Diablito jerky. The devil fish has a high hemoglobin content, which gives El Diablito jerky a texture and flavor profile akin to beef without a fishy flavor. This will help us market to a wider audience and break away from the niche fish jerky space. Moreover, because we process by-catch, our jerky is the most sustainable meat-based jerky in the market. People are increasingly substituting fish or other protein products to meet their demand for high-protein snacks instead of beef or poultry jerky.
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Stage 5: Scaling

We have a fish processing facility in Mexico and have trained a team of local fishermen to process the devil fish. We send fillet to the US and Canada where we turn it into El Diablito jerky.

Focus Areas:

Processing & Production, Entrepreneurship, Fisheries and 1 MoreSEE ALL

Processing & Production, Entrepreneurship, Fisheries and Workforce DevelopmentSEE LESS

Implemented In:

Canada, United States and Mexico

Canada, United States and MexicoSEE LESS

3
Countries Implemented In
5,000
Customers
4
Employees
$80,000
Funds Raised to Date

Problem

The invasive “devil fish” or devil fish has decimated Mexican freshwater fisheries and left thousands of fishermen without work. The devil fish, also known as the suckermouth or armored catfish in English, was first captured in Michoacán in 1995. Since then, the fish has spread to at least 13 states across Mexico. Currently, it accounts for 70% to 80% of wild freshwater capture. This has had a particularly deleterious effect in the state of Tabasco where an estimated 13,000 families depend on freshwater fishing as their primary economic activity.

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Solution

The concept of our work is simple - train local fishermen to process and package the fillet, in turn, providing a valuable new source of employment while mitigating environmental damage caused by the devil fish. We then sell packaged fillet and process fillet further into El Diablito fish jerky. El Diablito jerky has a texture and flavor profile akin to beef jerky, which we believe will help us market to a wider audience.

Target Beneficiaries

We are flipping the script on the invasive devil fish and putting fishermen back to work - our fishermen earn on average 40% more than before.

Mission and Vision

We're taking the hated and feared armored catfish or 'devil fish' as it's known colloquially in Mexico and transforming it into a tasty, nutritious product to increase employment in rural fishing communities. We envision a day where the armored catfish is no longer viewed as a curse but rather a blessing to help solve economic and nutritional issues in Mexico.

Competitive Advantage

Within the jerky business, the devil fish’s unique texture and flavor profile enable us to create a novel product that tastes like beef yet comes with the nutritional and environmental benefits of eating sustainable fish. This allows us to compete with beef and breakout of the niche fish jerky space. In Mexico, few people see the devil fish as a valuable commodity and our primary advantage lies in the cold chain and export logistics to bring our product from Mexico to Canada. Other organizations that have attempted to process the devil fish generally have treated it as a “trash fish” and have marketed low margin products. And finally, we currently own the supply chain for devil fish fillet in the world for both technical as well as regulatory reasons. Because of the devil fish's sharp, bony skin, the fish is incredibly difficult to fillet. Our team in Mexico perfected a technique that we've now taught to other communities in Mexico as well as the US.

Planned Goals and Milestones

We launched El Diablito in Canada in January 2020 and will be rolling out El Diablito in the US in Q2 2020. We have a small scale processing facility and are building out a franchise system whereby we provide the technical expertise and distribution logistics for local entrepreneurs to setup their own processing facilities. We plan to bring 1-2 additional fillet modules online in 2020.
Funding Goal50,000
Projected Cumulative Lives Impacted250

The Team Behind the Innovation

We come from a strong seafood and operational background in both the US and Mexico. Mike Mitchell, our CEO, comes from a marketing and seafood background in Mexico and the US. Our COO Sam Bordia worked in operations and logistics around the world. As a lifelong fisherman and community leader, Francisco Mendoza is the perfect person to manage our production and relationships with fishermen in Mexico. And finally, Victor Hernandez is an aquatic species biologist & manages our operations in Mexico.

EXECUTIVE TEAM INCLUDES YOUTH

Milestone

Jan 2020
New Country Implemented In
Canada, United States and Mexico
Sep 2019
Recognition ReceivedVERIFIED
UNLEASH+ Selected Team
ORGANIZATIONUNLEASHUNLEASH 
as part of
 UNLEASH+UNLEASH+
Apr 2018
Funds RaisedPENDING
$10,000
Apr 2017
Created

Supporting Materials

Acari-One-Sheeter-Dec-2019-orientation-null.pdf