Before one learns about the mission of Manolin. It helps to understand the history. Tony and John, the founders of Manolin, met on craigslist while looking for housing in Northern Virginia. Their shared interests in golf, software, and fine cuisine led them on an excursion down to the coast of Virginia. While on the trip they stopped in Topping, Virginia to eat at Merroir, a restaurant owned by Rappahannock Oyster Company. Tony had eaten there a few years prior with his then girlfriend, now fiancé and thought the place would be a good lunch spot.
Tony, was a swimmer all of his life and sailed on the Boston Harbor while attending MIT for his BS in Computer Science. John grew up in the oceans of New Jersey and spent weekends on the bay while earning his BS in Computer Science, specializing in Artificial Intelligence at Rowan University. Since both grew up on the water they were immediately drawn in by the atmosphere upon arrival.
As the car entered Merroir’s Lot the bay could be seen glistening from the afternoon sun on the horizon. A glance to the right exposed what appeared to be a tidy looking boat house. This structure would soon be the fuel that was ignited to start the last eleven-month adventure that is Manolin. Merroir’s boat house was actually their oyster farm operations. Lining the docks where several boats and a pile of cages.
After parking their car and sitting at a table Tony and John spoke briefly with one of the wait staff about the farm. He was kind enough to offer insight into how things operated and gave them the contact information for one of the farm managers. After enjoying their lunch and raw oysters they walked out onto the dock to try and gather more details about how things worked on these farms. Tony and John noticed multiple pieces of machinery, what appeared to be different types of cages, and a series of vats containing what looked like specs of sand. They left that day both intrigued and confused, leaving them with more questions than answers.
After a week of researching they learned more about how farms operated, the tools, and how they were used. It seemed like a tedious process which required coordination on the operations, management, marketing, and logistics fronts. All of these moving pieces but there was no information of how it was all done.
Over the next couple months, the team took multiple trips to discuss and understand more about these amazing aquaculture operations and the industry as a whole. Tony and John spoke with the farm manager they got connected to, visited multiple farms up and down the east and west coast, attended seafood festivals, workshops, symposiums, and even a legislative gathering at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington DC to discuss the hardships farmers must face from the environment and regulatory statutes.
After culminating their new-found knowledge, the ideas of how they could help began to flow. Tony and John wanted to benefit the oyster industry and mold aquaculture into a more sustainable and viable form of cultivation. Many different avenues where thrown around, but ultimately, they saw that the operations side of the farms were the most complex pieces and had the highest potential for making a lasting impact. Thus, much like with computers, in order to optimize a system, one must first repair the bottleneck. Tony and John believed that bottleneck was the disconnect between management and the farm.
Now that a path forward was established a name was needed. Something that could portray the willingness to help. After re-reading a novel called “Old Man and The Sea” by Ernest Hemingway they settled on Manolin. If you are not familiar with the story it is about an experienced but aging fisherman named Santiago. He is a skilled fisherman but when Santiago has the assistance of a young boy named Manolin, his work becomes easier and he is able to pull in bigger catches with much less effort. That was how the company became Manolin. The team wanted to be the Manolin to the aquaculture farms, helping them take something that these farms are already great at and further them even more by incorporating technology.
Manolin has been in Beta up until this point working alongside multiple farms on the east and west coast. We are continuing to iterate and improve. As each day goes on the Manolin Team gives thanks to everyone who has helped along the process, and are excited to see how this company can morph and grow!