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Spotlight on Coastline Market: Starting a Business as University Students

Lauren Marinigh | April 4, 2017

Knowing each other since high school and constantly keeping in touch and bouncing ideas off each other, Joseph Lee and Robert Kirstiuk finally landed on an idea that stuck as university students, Coastline Market. Coastline Market is a technology marketplace that aggregates commercial fishermen for direct connection to local restaurants and retail buyers. “Unlike the rest of the industry, we maintain no physical infrastructure and we allow fishers to easily subcontract couriers and receive payment,” Robert explained. “This allows us to radically reduce cost while making immediate, traceable and fresh delivery a requisite of our business.”

Coastline Market became Spin Master Innovation Fund recipients this past year, a program run by Futurpreneur Canada and Spin Master Ltd. that supports innovative entrepreneurs in Canada through financing, mentorship and exclusive professional development and networking opportunities. An opportunity that Robert explains as not only providing the funding that was instrumental in Coastline’s early traction and growth but providing Joseph and himself with an extensive network of advisors and mentors who have provided ample opportunities for the business partners to learn and grow as a team.

What inspired these young university students to start Coastline Market was their ongoing passion and interest in entrepreneurship growing up. Expecting to pursue their idea after they graduated from university, with early traction and growth, the opportunity was too enormous to put on hold. But starting a business while they were both still juggling the demand of university wasn’t easy. Joseph explained that sacrifices were definitely a big part of the equation in order to make it work. “As true believers in our business model, we made an earnest effort to devote all our free time to building the company,” Joseph explained. This meant skipping out on the typical things that come along with university like having social lives and even sometimes homework in the process, they admitted.

Shot of Coastline Markets app.

However, this dedication to their idea is what got them to where they are today. Not only has Joseph and Robert been recipients of the Spin Master Innovation Fund but they also are part of the Techstars Seattle accelerator program which is helping them take their business to the next level. What’s even more surprising about Robert and Joseph’s journey is that they weren’t studying entrepreneurship while in school. Joseph was studying computer science and commerce and Robert was studying theoretical physics, but their passion for entrepreneurship was still running through their blood since their first foray starting a sustainable candle company in their parent’s kitchen in high school. This business duo also thanks programs like Futurpreneur, The Next Big Thing, Next 36 and Techstars for helping them redefine their understanding of entrepreneurship in the process of building their business.

For other students looking to pursue a path of entrepreneurship, Joseph recommends that you get involved in your local accelerator/incubator programs, he also says that you should never underestimate the inertia of large corporations. “The biggest reason why ideas never come to fruition is the underlying preconception that someone with more resources, information and expertise must have thought about or executed the opportunity.” The pair emphasizes that starting a business as a student, although can be difficult, can also have all sorts of benefits like the huge learning opportunities it comes with, the unparalleled resources and often times having no family or bills to take care of.

We can’t wait to see Coastline Market continue to grow. They have teased us saying they have exciting developments in their pipeline including raising their second round of venture capital by next year and expanding their operations into several cities both in Canada and hopefully the United States.

Written by: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Specialist, Futurpreneur Canada