My name is Curro Villarreal Acavedo and I am the founding partner and CEO of Naturix Iniciativas S.L., which is the holding company for Naturix Aquiculture S.L. I am also a Spanish Crowdfunding Entrepreneur now that the Naturix campaign is live on FundedByMe! I am a technician in Marine Cultivation with a degree in Marine Sciences, and over 20 years of professional experience in this field, working in both the public and private sectors.
I am passionate about my family, my work and human wellbeing. I want to do my part in making sure my children’s generation have access to healthier food than what we have today from intensive industrial food production which carries heavy levels of toxins and allergens and is very harmful to the environment. I want to be a driver in providing food security and environmental security which is under serious threat because of actions of mine and previous generations – we are indebted to the environment and future generations. This is why I am dedicating my work to what I know best, which is aquiculture, but creating an innovative and disruptive model which combines ecological aquiculture as a base to provide a sustainable multifunctional set of products and services. These are underpinned by organic fish cultivation, through to commercialisation of fish products, recreational fishing, eco-tourism, education and R+D+I (Research, Development and Innovation). The vision is to offer healthy food and healthy lifestyles, and most importantly connecting people with the source of their food and their livelihood, which in my view is Mother Nature and those that ‘work the fields’.
Through recovery of abandoned aquiculture farms (of which there are almost 200 only in Spain), we hope to recover the inhabited rural areas, create local employment, recover the littoral zones, wetlands and river basins, and in this way attract more people and wealth to the countryside. Through education we can learn the importance of our diet to our wellbeing and the importance of a healthy environment and a just society – which is essential for our livelihood.
My dream is to bring the Naturix vision into the consciousness of as many people as possible and to also encourage similar sustainable business models to be adopted in other sectors. Obviously we are only one of the millions of others who are part of this growing environmental and social awakening.
How did the idea for your campaign come about? Describe what your campaign does.
Since 2006 we have made a great deal of effort to recover, renovate and equip the Valderrebollo aquatic farm in Guadalajarra – what was an abandoned conventional fish farm in the pristine historic cultural valley of the Tajuña river. However at that time there was no Organic certification and accreditation body in Spain. Through extensive policy effort working with local and national governments, by 2011 we achieved Organic certification for production and elaboration of aquatic products, in line with European Commission standards.
By the end of 2012 we had operationalized our elaboration hall – the first Organic certified aquaculture transformation & elaboration hall in the Iberian Peninsula. As there is no access to organic Trout eggs in Spain, we have had to import larvae from abroad – both costly and unsustainable and contrary to our philosophy to have a completely ‘local and closed cycle’ of production. As such we decided on the current Growth and Improvement project for 2014, which is to create our own hatchery. So in 2013 we ceased the culling and sale of our fish to ensure we can use them as reproducers to create our own hatchery.
As of today, in the onset of the first winter cold spell, our Trouts have fertilized eggs and we have collected thousands of organic eggs and these will be stored in hatchery batteries where they will transform to larvae and later move to our pools where they will grow into full-sized mature organic Trouts. So, for the first time we will be creating a fully closed production cycle ready to commercialise by September 2014. This is why we need the financial support to see us through this challenging transformation period.
Why did you decide on crowdfunding? What about FundedByMe appealed to you?
I met Miguel Ángel Trujillo, the General Manager of FundedbyMe in Spain, through a common friend and very soon it became clear that this model for raising investment is very well suited to our ideals – that is to as much as possible avoid the centralised financial sector and work directly with people. This is in line with our food production focus to bring local food directly to consumers, by direct sale or through farmers or social markets, or specialised stores. Ideally we envisage our investors also being our consumers and that would create the perfect synergy to invest in what one consumes, creating a highly efficient channel to market – this is why we would for example offer special access prices to our investors. Clearly, FundedbyMe is has a very interesting international outlook with a wide and fast growing membership base which is in line with our Global and multi-cultural vision.
Talk us through your campaign on FundedByMe – what are you planning on doing to maximize the exposure and ensure success? What can our readers look forward to seeing from your campaign?
We are using the typical channels of communication such as traditional media and new media, social networks etc. to bring awareness of our project. We are also speaking to a number of specific investors who are interested in our business model and we are also going to encourage them to invest part of their fund through the Crowdfunding channel in order to participate in this social community based approach. They will also save on red-tape and commissions typical of most traditional investment channels. We expect that by the end of January the campaign will take good pace and we expect to reach the 30-40% target, by which type we invite the more risk averse individuals to look at joining the investment drive.
Why should our readers get involved in your campaign?
There is ample evidence and publications on the growth of Aquiculture worldwide, compared with its relative low adoption in Europe, especially low in Spain. This fact is echoed by recent policies coming down from the European Commission through to regional governments which are providing up to 80% grants (in the form of non-reimbursable subsidies!) for investment in this sector – through the new Common Fisheries Policy. Indeed we are certainly making use of these subsidies, which is also a great opportunity for investors to leverage this injection of capital by only putting up 20% of what is required for our expansion. There is no doubt that in the next few years aquaculture, and specifically ecological organic aquaculture, will be a major source of food production in Europe. In fact the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN considers this to be an essential way forward to achieve food security in a world with fast growing population that is environmentally challenged, especially because of Climate Change. Worldwide at present aquaculture human food supply has reached the same level (by tonnage) as all aquatic organism caught from the wild!