The startups with sea grape (CaulerpaIentillifera) of two students studying Food and Biology Technology at Dong A University

Realizing the economic potential and the ability to filter water, purify the environment of bogs and lagoons of sea grape, two students of class TP15A1.1 - Faculty of Food and Biology Technology, subordinated to Dong A University named Tran DinhBaoLoc (1994) and Van Quy Hop (1997) successfully made a research about planting sea grape and making products from this plant. These are the very first steps in their startups way.

After the visit to Nha Trang in May, 2018 and a chance to try sea grape, two students came up with the idea of carrying out a research project to plant sea grape as well as make products from this plant in Danang.

According to Mr. Hop, sea grape was brought back from Japan by a Vietnamese engineer since 2004. However, this plant is mainly exported to Japan so it is not popular in Vietnam. They want to bring this new plant closer to Vietnamese people to be used as a type of vegetable. Sea grape is not only effective in economy but also in environment because it is able to purify water and environment of lagoons.

The official project was taken into action in July, 2018. From July to October, 2018, both of them have learnt and experienced how to plant and raise sea grape at Tri Tin company (located in NhaTrang). After three months with lots of practical experience, they started to find a place to start planting sea grape in Danang. Mr. Loc said: “Due to the special features, the place to raise sea grape must be made sure about hygiene. More precisely, it should be far away from residential zone, factories and river banks. The reason is that sea grape only yields the best results without salinization and pollution in water.

After the survey, salinity and pH test for some areas, they decided to opt for Lap An bog (Lang Co Town, Hue). Hop shared that the benefit of Lap An bog is that there are a lot of shrimp farming households. As a result, the water source is stable with lots of organic nutrition, which is valuable and necessary for sea grape development. Thanks to the support from Lap An citizens, from October, 2018, they started to carry out the first period in which they made experiment in planting sea grape there and got very positive results. After 15 days, the length of sea grape reached 5-10 cm and can be harvested to sell.

To be more specific, they tried to plant on the total area of 200 square meters and about 2 to 5 kilograms of sea grape for each square meter. About harvesting, they can divided it into two periods each month. With the amount of fresh sea grape harvested, they came to advertise and sell at restaurants and food stores. Happily, there were some first orders.

We estimated that in 2019, marketing will be promoted more. Simultaneously, when the amount of export is stable, we will diversify the product types (apart from fresh sea grape, they tried to research for other products like water - separating sea grape made by centrifugal methods), dried sea graph (dried by using heat and endosmosis pressure of water).” Hop said.

Until the beginning of December, due to the effects of rain and storm, their project must be stopped temporarily. They only kept sea grape seeds because in rain season, the salinity of water reduces so that sea grape cannot develop. Currently, they have to remake the planting soil for the next steps. Until now, 100% of capital for this project is borrowed from families. Hop shared: “Realizing that the project is not potential, I asked to borrow money from my family but was refused. I am still a student so my parents thought that I could not do any startups with my lack of experience. However, after I persuaded strongly and showed my will at doing this, my family accepted to help us.” Simultaneously, the project is also directed by Mr. Nguyen Phuoc Minh - the Dean of Food and Biology Technology faculty of UDA and is financially supported by UDA to join workshops at not only UDA but also other universities in Vietnam.

On the first of December, 2018, the project of two students were presented and introduced in Creative Ideas Connection Day under the scale of South Central Coast. Then they brought their project to take part in National Startups Day held for students in 2018 in Ha Noi on the 16th of December and got the fourth prize.

Khanh Quyen (Da Nang News)

Article in Đà Nẵng cuối tuần newspapers: Hành trình khởi nghiệp với rong nho