A start-up online trading portal for business-to-business seafood sales has formally launched its website and has begun hosting private auctions.

Ocean Executive, which combines the social networking aspects of LinkedIn and the auction features of eBay, formally launched at the Boston seafood show earlier this month.

The site is the vision of founder Mike Budreski who told Undercurrent News that he wanted to create a tool to facilitate transactions within the industry.

“A lot of these seafood companies are looking at business to consumer which is fantastic. But ours is different in the sense that why can’t there be a B2B platform for sourcing product and creating live auction? So that’s what we’ve done,” he said.

Conducting sales online creates efficiencies for the distributors, manufacturers, importers, and the end-user retailers and restaurant chains that Budreski expects will use the site.

“We’re taking a business process that’s been the same for many years and we’re taking efficiencies and streamlining the process of buying and selling seafood to an online format,” he said. “We’re making it easier for companies to connect with their existing users or existing clients. We’re also making it easier to build out additional clients.”

The business formally premiered at the 2015 Boston seafood show and since its 2014 start has focused on website development and perfecting the work-flow, the process by which users click through the site to select which products will form lots to be sold.

Now the private auction component -- an additional open marketplace feature is expected to be rolled out in the months to come -- is up and running.

The private auctions begin, Budreski said, when a would-be buyer or seller agrees to serve as host and invites contacts to participate through the site. The contacts, he added, are known only to the auction host and aren't displayed publicly. Then the host specifies the lot that he or she is looking to buy or sell, listing the species, product form, species and other details.

“We have them all on the platform. So when you build out your actual product you're associating all these products with different attributes and different combinations,” Budreski said.

For example, restaurant chain may want to purchase a container-load of snow crab and host an auction amongst prospective vendors to get the best price.

“You’ve got the purchasing power. You’re saying to your vendors, I need to buy a container of snow crab, what’s your best offer,” he said.

Continuing with the snow crab example he said, buyers or sellers can list very specific products requirements, for example, "five-to-eight ounce snow crab clusters, packed one-by-30", he said.

Additionally, products can be described by their associated certifications such as the approval of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or other groups.

When building out a lot for auction, the type of packaging and other relevant details can be included as well.

After a winner of the auction is declared by the host, the buyer and seller can transfer title of ownership of the goods, which are kept at a location arranged by the parties.

Ocean Executive takes a commission of half of a percentage of the value of the sale but participants aren't charged Budreski said.

“You can host the auction for free, register the auction for free, search and build out your products. There’s no fee until you transact,” he said.

He acknowledged that the business’s eventual success will depend on convincing a large number of seafood buyers and sellers to use the platform. Those volumes will come, he said, as auction hosts invite more and more connections to participate in the platform.

“In order for us to build out our network, we rely on our customers to populate and grow our network, similar to LinkedIn," he said.

If the auctions and the public marketplace eventually prove popular, Ocean Executive will be able to use the aggregated, anonymous data from many transactions to eventually create price indexes, similar to how markets for other commodities operate.

“It’s going to bring about fair market value for the products that are being bought and sold.  It’s going to bring about transparency in pricing,” Budreski said.

March 28, 2016, Halifax, Nova Scotia