Melissa Harrington and Emily Castro are entrepreneurs who took their company Fish Fixe to the sharks on “Shark Tank” to see if they could get one of the sharks to invest in their company during the November 12, 2021 episode of the hit ABC show.
The episode synopsis revealed, “First into the Tank are entrepreneurs from Sugarland, Texas, who are sure to make a splash with their convenient healthy food delivery service brought directly to your doorstep.”
The entrepreneurs pitched their company to sharks Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec and guest shark Nirav Tolia, founder of NextDoor.
Here’s what you need to know about Fish Fixe on “Shark Tank:”
1. Fish Fixe’s Inspiration Came From the Co-Founders’ Children
Melissa Harrington and Emily Castro launched Fish Fixe on November 1, 2017. The inspiration for the company came about after the women had children and wanted to incorporate the many health benefits of seafood into their families’ diets. Melissa’s family owned a wholesale seafood business, but that didn’t make the process of building their company any easier.
In an interview with Heavy, they revealed they faced the same stumbling blocks as everyday people. “Buying, preparing and cooking seafood wasn’t simple. Grocery stores left unanswered questions, seafood gets forgotten when busy nights take over and customers often can not find premium or their favorite fish in their local stores,” they said.
Melissa asked her husband to take some of her favorite fish – snapper, scallops and shrimp — and portion it out, vacuum seal it and freeze it. This would simplify dinner time as the fish could be ready at a minute’s notice. She shared this routine with Emily who also found it helped simplify dinner time in her house while incorporating more fish into their meals.
Melissa and Emily took a vacation together to Mexico and realized their frozen seafood routine had been a success for both of their families. They told Heavy, “It dawned on us in Mexio that if we loved the product and how easy it was to prepare and cook it, then others would as well.”
2. Melissa & Emily Met When They Were Both Soccer Players at Texas A&M University
In an interview with Heavy, Emily Castro told us about how she and Melissa met. She said, “We met while playing Division 1 soccer for Texas A&M. Melissa played forward, which means her job was to score goals. I was the sweeper, setting up the ball to be scored.”
Melissa and Emily also took on those positions when they were building Fish Fixe. Melissa is the partner with her foot constantly on the gas running towards the goal. Emily is the one behind her, making sure that their plan is being executed correctly.
In fact, when the opportunity to be on “Shark Tank” came up, Melissa knew Emily would say they should wait until they were more ready. Melissa said in her interview with Heavy, “Without telling Emily, I applied for Shark Tank and was accepted into the first round. I casually told Emily one morning to be available that afternoon because we would be speaking with Shark Tank!”
3. The Pandemic Helped Fish Fixe Grow
Melissa revealed to Heavy that the early days of Fish Fixe were lean. She said, “Like most start-ups, we were working with a shoestring budget and a small team, ahem – two of us and sometimes one and a half, as Emily was still working a full-time demanding job.”
Ever since their founding, Melissa and Emily have been big champions of DIY and learning how to do things themselves, especially at the crucial early stage of their business’s life.
They said, “We learned how to build and operate the website, run social media campaigns, grow our supplier database and further build on those relationships, manage inventory, run e-commerce and so much more. We hit many hurdles but in the end our hands-on approach has allowed us to overcome obstacles fast and learn each aspect of the business.”
Then, the pandemic hit, and Fish Fixe’s sales grew 400% year to year from 2019 to 2020 since we were all stuck at home and using alternative ways to shop for food. The founders joked, “We “hooked” a lot of customers in 2020.”
4. Melissa & Emily’s Past Experience Was Integral to Fish Fixe’s Success
After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2008, Melissa Harrington went to work at her family’s wholesale seafood company Lonestar Seafood, her LinkedIn profile revealed. She served as the Vice President of Sales from 2011 to 2017 (when she and Emily Castro launched Fish Fixe).
Emily also brought valuable and relevant experience to the table when co-founding Fish Fixe with Melissa. She spent more than a decade working for liquor distributor Republic National Distributing Company, her LinkedIn profile revealed.
Emily started as a retail wine sales representative in the summer of 2007 after graduating from Texas A&M University and worked there until July 2021 when she was the Division Manager – On-Premise Spirits for Southeast Texas.
5. ‘Shark Tank’ Was One of Their Biggest Moments in Life
Melissa and Emily told Heavy, “Shark Tank sits at the top of our ‘Biggest Moments in Life’ list. It was a culmination of almost four years of nose to the grind work on a product we firmly believed in and never gave up on.”
They also mentioned that Emily’s experience in the spirits industry left her juggling her full-time job while also building Fish Fixe. She said, Emily spent over a decade in the spirits industry and for many years jugging both her full-time job and building Fish Fixe. Many late nights I would turn on Shark Tank in the background while I plugged away at building the Fish Fixe brand. So pitching to the Sharks was truly a dream out of guest room office that came true on the big screen.”
Like many other “Shark Tank” presenters, Melissa and Emily experienced the phenomenon of “tank amnesia” — though they didn’t realize that was normal until Heavy told them that. They said, “We didn’t realize this was common among other companies that have pitched on Shark Tank. There are bits and pieces one of us will remember and the other won’t. So when we individually describe the filming, we’re filling in each other’s memory lapses and then the story somewhat becomes whole. The Shark Tank previews jogged a lot of memories we had forgotten about. It was a really exciting moment when we got to see clips of our show.”