Xavier graduate Peter Goggins recently reeled in a $20,000 first prize in a competition for start-up entrepreneurs.
Goggins, ‘17, has a passion for improving the ecosystem that produces fish that ultimately end up on the dinner plate.
The UConn senior, an environmental science major, has a startup company, Pisces Atlantic, which makes commercial fish food with healthier ingredients - mainly vegetable and insect protein. Most commercial fish foods contain fishmeal, ground-up trash fish, which can be expensive and contain some levels of mercury and polycarbonate plastics.
“It gets passed on to the farm fish and eventually the consumer,” Goggins said.
That didn’t suit him well.
“Aquaculture will grow the fish of the future, Pisces Atlantic will feed them,” is a line on the Pisces Atlantic website.
People are eating more fish: The rise in worldwide aquaculture production from 1990 to 2018 is 527 percent, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The rise in fish consumption, as some turn away from meat, is 122 percent.
Goggins believes that the fish food needs to be healthy and the judges of the Wolff New Venture Competition believe in Goggins, who won the top prize in a competition that features five of the top startups coming out of UConn each year. Those finalists are selected from the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation Summer Fellowship program based on venture viability and value added to the market.
With that $20,000 he can keep going and says he’ll use it in part to grow sales. He now works out of rented space in East Hartford with a couple of interns and has advisers. His father helps out, too. In fact his father came up with the company name as they sat around one night.
Goggins grew up in Middletown but spent time in the summers with family in Clinton. He enjoyed fishing and was interested in working in the industry. About four or five years ago he read a story in National Geographic about the need for more sustainable and economical fish food, and that eventually led him to where he is today.
Goggins says one of his most influential classes at Xavier was Advanced Placement Environmental Science taught by the now-retired Mrs. Linda Charpentier. She emailed him upon learning he had won. Goggins took a lot of science courses at Xavier and feels he would not be where he is without that strong background.
By Jeff Otterbein