Meet the South Florida native on a mission to solve the ocean’s biggest problems

By Riley Kaminer

Last September, Daniel Kleinman founded Seaworthy Collective, a startup social enterprise that aims to empower a community of marine entrepreneurs. 

Through this initiative, Kleinman hopes to facilitate innovative approaches to tackling some of the biggest threats to the natural environment by leveraging the power of the seas. From reducing plastic pollution to carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas removal, Kleinman sees abundant opportunities in earth’s most abundant resource. 

Investors are taking note. Kleinman has just inked a deal with Miami-based impact investment firm Logos Capital to set up a $30 million “Blue Economy Fund.” Seaworthy Collective will advise Logos Capital on how to discover and vet startups working in the ocean tech space. In return, the Collective will make use of the VC’s international network of investors to help secure funding for projects in their ecosystem.

What is the Blue Economy? It’s any business that has to do with the ocean, Kleinman explained. But the key word is “regeneration.”

“Sustainability for the ocean is mitigation at best,” Kleinman said. Instead, he proposes a “regenerative blue economy” led by innovators who are “building solutions that solve problems at their root.”

This approach stands in stark contrast to that which Kleinman saw in his years working as a US Navy contractor. He argues that private interests are often at odds with efforts to solve the ocean’s greatest problems. 

“9 of the 10 biggest companies in the ocean economy are fossil fuel corporations,” explained Kleinman, highlighting the need for a paradigm shift around how we approach one of our most important natural resources.

This need for fresh perspectives was what motivated Seaworthy Collective to develop its first Opportunities for Sea Change venture studio cohort. The program has already received over 100 applications from students and industry veterans alike want to work with Kleinman and team to develop cutting-edge ocean technology.

“With the venture studio, I wanted to show people that you don’t need a PhD or a marine science degree to innovate,” Kleinman said.

“I want to break down barriers, be inclusive, and accessible,” he said, describing Seaworthy Collective as a vehicle for “social impact to enable environmental impact.” That socially-driven mission was what got him recently featured in one of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s Cafecito Talks.

Kleinman, currently finishing a master’s degree in ocean exploration science at the University of Miami, has just started raising a $500,000 seed round for Seaworthy Collective. Kleinman also hopes to raise $250,000 in additional funds from sponsorships and philanthropic organizations.

Seaworthy Collective is currently pre-revenue and reliant on the efforts of about 20 volunteers.  Kleinman said that this funding will enable Seaworthy Collective to hire the staff needed to fulfill his mission, as well as working capital to support their upcoming venture studio and other programs in the pipeline.

For Kleinman, jumping into Seaworthy was a leap of faith: “I left a perfectly stable job in San Diego to return to South Florida and launch Seaworthy.” 

That says a lot about the Miami tech ecosystem. This Broward native left our region “10 years ago because [he] didn’t see the opportunity here to do impactful ocean technology work.” The recent expansion of the local tech scene changed all that. 

“This is the moment,” Kleinman said. “I can’t imagine a better time for this to happen than now.”

Photo at top of post was taken at an Tech Beach Earth Day event.

 

Riley Kaminer