IN this week??s SME Focus an entrepreneurial fisheries expert explains how she got into the specialised business of lobster transportation.

IN this week??s SME Focus an entrepreneurial fisheries expert explains how she got into the specialised business of lobster transportation.


Errin Todd.



What is your business called?

Lobster Pod Ltd.

Where is it based?

Fife (home office) and Edinburgh Entrepreneurial-Spark Hatchery.

What does it produce, what services does it offer?

The Lobster Pod is an innovative, patent pending live shellfish transportation system. It has been scientifically proven to reduce mortalities to almost zero, potentially saving customers £12,500 in an average trip (in reduced losses and fuel savings).

The Lobster Pod has trays for the shellfish meaning no crushing, easier checking and utilises the whole of the vehicle, increasing the quantity of shellfish transported. The water is filtered and chilled and our USP is a controlled atmosphere system ensuring optimum conditions for the shellfish. We can also add monitoring telemetry to ensure both head office and the driver can monitor the conditions and adjust the system accordingly.

Shellfish welfare is improved throughout the supply chain compared with alternatives. Shellfish are happier and healthier and therefore tastier for the consumer.

In the last 12 years I have co-invented many products for the industry with my husband, Dr Keith Todd. Our eyes and minds are always open for inspiration which may come from a nature documentary, a visit to the beach, a chance conversation or our kids. We tried and tested lots of ideas for the Lobster Pod until we got it right. The final idea which worked was based on a theory my husband had aged eight whilst rock-pooling and hearing crabs ??clicking?? on a dreich Autumn morning (still top secret I??m afraid).

This year I have focused on turning that into a business by developing the sales, marketing and funding strategies.

Who does it sell to?

Our customers will be fishermen and fish merchants, initially in the UK and then, by summer 2015, we plan to sell to Europe, with further international expansion planned within three years.

I??ve worked as a Consultant in the fisheries sector for 12 years.

What is its turnover?

We are currently pre-revenue and will begin trading in spring 2015.

How many employees?

Currently just me as the founder but by July 2015 I expect to be joined by a board and management team.

When was it formed?

March 2014. I also run a successful sister business named Fisheries Enhance, which is a consultancy helping clients improve efficiency, develop new processes and products and improve their profitability. This has worked on projects such as the design and construction of St Abbs Marine research station in Berwickshire.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I got interested in fishing and aquaculture after working at Deep-Sea World aquarium whilst I was a student (I am a qualified English and Drama teacher). I had to learn all about the fish to educate school groups and the public. I met my husband there as he was the curator. Keith has a degree in fisheries science and a PhD in marine biology. He started a company in 1998 and in 2002 I took a career break from teaching to help as he was really busy. I expected to do basic administration and book-keeping but soon found I loved meeting the fishermen and was a natural at sales, marketing and science communication.

How did you raise the start-up funding? So far the business is self funded but I hope to attract business angel investment. I have been encouraged by the angel investment scene here in the UK and so far my engagement has been very positive.

What was your biggest break? I have been working with Business Gateway Fife since the start of the year and my business adviser, Alasdair Busby, really understands me and the business. Alasdair helped me access Fife Council??s Fife Investment Fund Grant, supported my ambitious plans and encouraged me to apply for Entrepreneurial-Spark.

E-Spark is an accelerator programme with executive education courses, enablement and mentoring and free office space in Edinburgh, Glasgow or Ayrshire. I started in February this year and it has really accelerated my growth. In five months I went from idea to proven concept (with market research, business plan, financial projections, sales and marketing plans and funding strategy) and most importantly I am now investor ready.

They helped me validate my business but more importantly build my self-confidence. On E-Spark advice I have built a strong team of mentors and I have also won some business pitching competitions along the way.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

I love what I do. I really believe in my product, like meeting with customers and working with my advisors and can??t wait to build my team. Being able to work towards my ambitious goals keeps me incentivised. I used to think I was motivated by money and whilst I want my family to be comfortable for me it is more important to be happy and healthy and if I was mega rich I would still do this. I have the drive to be very successful but family comes first.

What do you least enjoy?

I don??t mind putting the hours in but I am not good with very early starts or being away from my family for too long.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

From our Headquarters in Scotland, we aim to grow Lobster Pod Ltd to a team of 100 staff, and trade in Europe, USA and the Far East. I am focused on achieving a turnover of £10,000,000 per annum within 5 years with a high net profit. I want Lobster Pod and future innovations to revolutionise the seafood industry.

What are your top priorities?

Gain angel investment; launch in spring 2015; build a first class team; exceed sales targets and improve profitability.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

Streamline business support. Funding and support should be based on merit rather than sector. The criteria for success of business support should be job and wealth creation, not simply the number of start-ups.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Go with your gut instinct, work smart and play nice.

How do you relax?

A relaxing day for me would be a long lie-in, a day out with my family to somewhere fun like an aquarium, lunch at a Farm Shop, pottering about my veg. garden, making a Sunday roast for dinner with homemade (gluten free) pudding, a long walk on the Fife coastal path with our dog (called Scampi), watching TV and reading (I am currently reading a book by fellow Scot Carmen Reid). I also have a love of interior design and architecture and hope to build my own Eco Home with a view of the sea one day.