Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Emi Koch, Co-Founder of Coast 2 Coast, located in San Diego, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Coast 2 Coast is a nonprofit that works with young learners in small-scale fishing communities using place-based education, audiovisual storytelling tools, and youth-led participatory action research for students to explore their aquatic social-ecological systems and communicate their importance. Partnering with local schools, social projects, environmental nonprofits, and community-run organizations in small-scale fishing (SSF) communities.

Coast 2 Coast enables rural students to explore their ancient oceans and ancestral villages as resilient researchers and skilled communicators, using transmedia tools, community-based participatory research approaches, and impact storytelling techniques to illustrate their SSF’s importance for ocean-human health and sustainable futures.

Our transdisciplinary team engages local youth as impact storytellers through photography, photojournalism, comic, stop-motion animation, street art, murals, filmmaking, and novel “edutainment.” Weeklong workshops, 6-month programs, and touring school festivals that foster digital literacy, geospatial knowledge, entrepreneurship, and awareness of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, or the SSF Guidelines, is the first international instrument to protect artisanal fisheries.

Guided by the SSF Guidelines, local students identify their fishing villages’ strengths, investigate changes and daylight challenges, and brainstorm potential solutions. Participants co-create their own stories rooted in traditional knowledge, fortified by science, and expressed through students’ imaginations that highlight their ocean and community as a marine social-ecological system. Through partnerships, we work to implement these youth-driven, community-based solutions for healthy seas and SSF communities.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Emi. I am a former professional surfer for Billabong. Rather than using my sponsorship to compete, I founded a nonprofit to support community-based surfing for youth empowerment organizations around the world. Today, our nonprofit includes Coast 2 Coast as a participatory audiovisual storytelling movement to shape positive change in small-scale fishing communities.

I am a social-ecologist focusing on the role of youth and rural education in promoting sustainable fisheries and optimistic futures. I am a Fulbright Fellow and National Geographic Explorer motivated by the radical imaginations of rural students and the reciprocal relationships we humans have with our built and natural environments.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and students around the world from India to Nigeria. We are developing "The Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines Curriculum" to facilitate dedicated spaces for young learners from small-scale fishing communities to critically reflect and practice reciprocal relationships with their local aquatic environments and villages and generate data about their social-ecological systems for greater representation in academia, policy, and strategic resource management plans.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

I think one of the hardest things that come from running a nonprofit is that there is little separation between work and life.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Do not reinvent the wheel. Look for like-minded companies and see what gaps exist, and collaborate there.
  2. Remember that there are no straight lines in nature, and therefore, growth is non-linear. It is perfectly fine to fail and learn from that experience.
  3. Be gentle with yourself.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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