Coastline’s 2019 in Review 🎣

Founder Blog Dec 30, 2019

Three years ago, Robert and I started Coastline with a simple vision of democratizing access to small-scale harvesters through an online portal. Now as another year rolls by, it’s clear that our scope and mission has grown considerably — evidenced by our global ambitions and rapid growth in 2019.

Here’s our year at a glance 🎉:


2019 was a year where we focused on how:

  • to maximize our value to customers
  • we could scale out our value to customers and suppliers internationally
  • to build a team capable of fundamentally reinventing seafood distribution and sourcing
  • to rapidly experiment and build our business towards product-market-fit

Further, with the exceptional work of our team, we were able to grow our weekly unique buyers by 3x+, GMV by 2x+, and establish a first-of-its-kind, automated logistics system to ship direct from harvesters in Japan to Canada — faster than ever before.

Most excitingly, we tripled our team in less than a year, raised $2.5M to power our growth, and radically improved on our customer values (e.g. providing restaurants with deep analytics; automated supply chain coordination for delivery reliability; eliminating accounting hassle through auto-EFTs).

As we look back and celebrate the end of the year (and a decade), the Coastline team is well positioned to execute, build on our accomplishments, and drive into the next year with a clear focus.

Looking ahead to 2020, we’re excited to leverage our victories/failures from 2019, grow even faster, and focus on:

  1. Achieving product-market-fit, then putting our heads down on execution
  2. Delighting our customers with an experience that’s 10x better than incumbent wholesalers/distributors
  3. Enabling scale through supply chain automation— all without holding inventory or warehousing
  4. Furthering our mandate for creating, collecting, and leveraging data in a pen-and-paper industry

But…🤷🏻‍♂️

not everything that happened this year was rose-coloured. Here are some things that didn’t go well, along with what we intend to do better:

1. We didn’t do a great job of clearly defining our core customers and doubling down on them. While this increased revenues, it led to scattered resources and drove us further from product-market-fit.

  • What we intend to improve: Getting full, team-wide alignment on target segments, how their needs shape product, and clearly defined schedule to address future segments.

2. I stretched myself too thin across too many areas, and quality suffered.

  • What I intend to improve: Spending the necessary time on strategy, reflection, roadmapping, and getting beyond tactical activities. Learning to say no more often, leaning on my team more, and maintaining focus on a few core areas.

3. Building out better ‘stepping-stone’ product goals and rallying/aligning team on these objectives.

  • What I intend to improve: Having a clear, often-repeated set of short & medium term goals, rationale, and the step-function releases and features necessary to get us to our end objective. Getting full alignment from the team and buy-in to champion these features to our end customers.

4. Doing a better job of standardization. We had (and still have) users following custom cadences and event sequences — making operations an increasingly difficult problem to grasp, solve, and scale.

  • What I intend to improve: Getting on a tighter communication loop between product and operations such that we’re moving at the same pace & have full context alignment. Clearly identifying the need to standardize and being more diligent about avoiding hot-fixes or creating non-scalable solutions to fix inconsistencies or non-standardization. Balancing the fine line between horizontal product expansion vs. vertical supply chain integration.

5. Learning and becoming a better product-minded founder.

As a young founder, it’s important to learn every day, humbly acknowledge knowledge gaps, and always listen (but selectively heed) to the advice of others.

What I intend to improve: Continue dialogue and surround myself with mentors, advisors, and friends that are able and willing to push me to be better — and call me out on when I’m wrong.


At Coastline, our vision is to reinvent perishable logistics worldwide, starting with seafood. Our ambition is to become the leading platform for sourcing seafood direct from harvesters. We believe our work in 2020 within our supply chain and connected marketplace will be a huge step in getting us closer to this north star.

Thank you to our investors, partners, friends, and customers for being a part of our community and contributing to our success. Happy Holidays and I look forward to sharing more exciting news in the new year!

Cheers to 2020~

Joseph Lee, Co-Founder 🐟


Joseph Lee

Co-founder at Freshline.

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