With over 9 million users worldwide and 5 million in the U.S. alone, Fishbrain is a startup catering to anglers who have fishing on the brain. The company is reeling in users through a subscription-based app that lets fisherman post photos of their latest catch, check weather conditions, look for bait recommendations, and connect with other fishing fans. And if an angler is questioning what is on the other end of the line, the app can even identify different fish species.
This social network for fisherman may seem niche, but fishing is a growing market and actually generates a lot of business. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the American Sportfishing Association, the retail market for global sportfishing is worth $200 billion.
Fishbrain co-Founder and CEO Johan Attby came up with the idea in 2011, in hopes of reeling in a piece of what he calls, "the world's biggest hobby."
Attby says that if fishing enthusiasts are putting time and effort into catching fish, they want to share the trophy. "This type of content doesn't work super well on Facebook or Instagram, on general social," said Attby. "But if you share in a group of like-minded people, you will get a lot of credit from a community that can really appreciate these catches."
Data remains an important component of the Fishbrain app and while users do not need to share their location, it can help anglers hook the fish of a lifetime. "We have over 6 million logged catches on the platform so we use machine learning on top of all of this data. We are the first to give users a recommendation of when, where, and how to fish," said the CEO.
Fishbrain has raised a total of $28 million in funding to date. That comes after a Series B funding round totaling $13.5 million in March of 2018. Investors include some big backers like Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, as well as Softbank Ventures Korea, and the Swedish funds Northzone and Industrifonden.
"We want to continue on the path we are on. The first initiative is to be a global company. We want to not only be an app, we want to be the platform for the entire industry. So far it's a great starting point," said Attby.
With big plans for the future, Fishbrain is also thinking about conservation. The company works with agencies like U.S. Fish and Wildlife service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. These organizations actually take measurements from Fishbrain data.
"If there is an endangered species, we promote catch and release and not keeping the fish. But if this is an invasive species, you should not put it back in the water again," said Attby. "Every time we do an initiative around conservation we get good feedback from the community."
Fishbrain asks its users to engage with the community for a good cause. "We partnered with 'Keep America Tidy' for the 4th of July," he said of a recent initiative. "We told users to pick up all of the trash you see and during one day, tens of thousands of waters in the U.S. were clean thanks to our community."
Fish fanatics can get Fishbrain for free on iOS and Android with the premium version starting at $5.99 for a three-month signup. The one year premium membership is $39.99, which includes access to the app's AI-powered forecast tool, offers tips on baits to use, and gives users specific locations for catching fish.
If you're wondering if Fishbrain is what you've been missing on the water, look to the CEO's recent catch. Johan Attby says his recent hook was his biggest, "We went on a fishing trip and and I caught a Pike that was 50 pounds." Was it luck? Was it Fishbrain's suggestions? We can't know for sure.