See how one startup is promoting ocean conservation and sustainable tourism.
Introduce yourself! Who are you & what do you do?
I’m Ally Dragozet, the founder of Sea Going Green! I’ve been travelling since I was 1 years old and haven’t really slowed down since. Living in 6 countries by the age of 21, my passion for travel has only grown. My international background (Croatian/Serbian/Canadian) is what sparked an early passion for travel, which led me here to Amsterdam in 2014. Academically I studied marine biology and was aware of this disbalance between the tourism industry and the local communities which depend on the marine environment and I wanted to find a way to bridge this gap ! Marrying my two passions - marine biology and travelling is why I decided to found a sustainable tourism consultancy!
It is my love for travelling and the ocean that drives my commitment towards sustainable tourism. I believe that sustainable tourism through sustainable business is a key step towards protecting the integrity of the ocean and its biodiversity.
What inspired you to start Sea Going Green?
As I have been travelling for 25 years I have seen the negative impact of the tourism industry on the marine environment and was searching for a way to face this challenge head on. After working in the tourism industry for 5 years and while studying and working in the marine biology field over 5 years I wanted to find a way to marry my two passions together. This is when Sea Going Green was born. I wanted to consult in an environment I knew well and to make an environmental impact in the marine environment.
Sea Going Green is an environmental consultancy enterprise whose mission is to protect the integrity of the oceans by promoting sustainable tourism through sustainable business.
We want to use the transformative power of the tourism industry as a catalyst for sustainable use of the natural environment. Due to overfishing, pollution, coastal development, climate change, the ocean is under more pressure than ever. Coupled with the rapidly growing tourism industry it is essential that tourism operators protect the assets that attract visitors in the first place: the environment and its wildlife.
At Sea Going Green we provide consulting services to tourism companies who want to implement sustainable practises to alleviate their negative impact on the marine environment. Using our services results in financial benefits for the client by acquiring more customers, achieving awards and accolades and cutting costs as well as receiving tax incentives.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Going from a marine biologist to entrepreneur was definitely a difficult learning curve, but with the help of the ACE (Amsterdam Centre for Entrepreneurship) accelerator program I have been able to make the transition. Additionally, building a team around me with different skills and backgrounds who still share the same mission to #GoGreenForTheBigBlue has been a major contributor to all of our current traction. A challenge that I have had to overcome is selectively picking the right people for our team as the right team member can accelerate your growth, but the opposite can really slow you down especially at the beginning of a startup – being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. Another challenge is working completely bootstrapped without external funding, thankfully this only lasted the first 9 months!
What has been a highlight of Sea Going Green?
There have been many highlights in the journey of founding Sea Going Green, we are close to our 1 year anniversary now! But signing our first client within 9 months of operations was definitely a highlight, as well as building this amazing network and ecosystem around us that have supported us every step of the way, we now have a community of over 75 inspiring individuals! Also a personal highlight has been seeing people's positive reaction to our mission, it gives me as the founder all the energy and validation to keep going.
Where do you see Sea Going Green in the long term?
My vision for Sea Going Green is to focus on consultancy for the next 5-8 years and build up a portfolio of clients in the tourism industry and then use their geographical advantage to focus on recycling ocean plastics. There are a lot of companies currently taking marine plastics out of the oceans so that market is currently a bit over saturated but there is a huge leap that needs to be done in the recycling marine plastics industry, and we want to get into cleantech to make recycled marine plastics as easy to use as virgin plastics. This will be a big shift into product development and as salinity and sun exposure make marine plastics difficult to work with we will have our fair share of challenges but an exciting extension of Sea Going Green.
Why do you think it is important for businesses to work together to tackle the issue of sustainable tourism?
There are so many amazing businesses tackling ocean pollution and promoting sustainable tourism from various upstream and downstream angles I really believe collaborative efforts will get all of us to reach our missions faster! Strategic partnerships between businesses is a much more efficient way to work while helping spreading each others message and raising awareness for the need of sustainable tourism and ocean conservation!
Can you describe a typical work day for you?
Well in our start up every day is different from the last but recently we have moved offices to the center of Amsterdam in a beautiful coworking space with other like minded professionals called Merkspace, so our days begin here now! I focus on the environmental impact assessments for our current projects in the mornings and then have strategy meetings with the team for any strategic partnerships we are focusing on that week. My afternoons usually consists of calls to potential clients and sending out project proposals. After work 2-3 times a week I try to speak at events to raise awareness for the need of sustainable tourism and ocean conservation, and network with other sustainability professionals which there are plenty of here in Amsterdam!