Dan Ward is not your average aquafarmer. An ambitious aquaculturist Dan built Ward Aquafarm in North Falmouth, successfully producing high-quality, reliable oysters, scallops, clams, and sugar kelp. While you can never understate the value of his hard work, much of Dan's success stems from the ongoing experiments and research ventures that he undertakes to create new ways to grow and sustainably expand aquaculture. As a Research Scientist, Dan's passion is innovation. Funded by numerous grants, Dan has conducted research on a range of topics including how to mitigate algae growth and developed a downwelling system used in the farming of bay scallops. Dan wears other hats too as the owner of a marina, a Mercury dealership, and as an aquaculture consultant to municipalities and non-profits.
But when Dan's biggest innovation came about--a proprietary aquaculture production system he ran into obstacles. Initially, he was successful in earning grants to create a prototype of the system. But when he needed funds to build the business, the grants weren't there. That's when Dan realized he needed to step outside his world of grants and science to learn how other start-up businesses secure their funding. He emailed SCORE on a whim, having no idea if SCORE had the kind of expertise he needed. Well, we did! SCORE Cape Cod & the Islands paired Dan up with mentor, Dennis Walsh. With over 25 years of experience in marine biology and shellfish aquaculture along with additional experience in business, grant management, and government contracting, Dennis was the right guy to help Dan enter the world of venture capital and business.
Dan admitted that he was outside his area of expertise when it came to securing funds. Dennis started by helping Dan connect with aquaculture investors in Southeast Massachusetts. He prompted him to be a speaker at several commercial aquaculture conferences to build his personal brand with investors. With Dennis' help, Dan crafted effective proposals and learned about the pros and cons of investors. It paid off and in late June, Dan aligned himself with an investor who is working with him to invest in and build out his production system. Dan is the first to say: "None of this would have happened without Dennis and SCORE. I was so used to gaining funding by just applying for government grants that I had no idea how to navigate the business world."