SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)– Two local entrepreneurs who call themselves “reefers” are not in the business you might think, but their small business is at an all time high. Thiel Valdes and Bryant Brownell are the founders of Low Tide Corals.
Low Tide Corals is based out of their garage, where they grow coral reefs.
Valdes has always been a freshwater hobbyist, and has had tanks his whole life. After bringing it to the attention of a local store owner that they should start up their own aquaculture and grow coral instead of taking it from the ocean. The store owner wasn’t fully on board.
When Valdes invited Brownell on a family vacation, the pair discussed Valdes’s idea of growing coral. Brownell was all for it
“ That’s kind of how Low Tide Corals came to be on little pieces of napkin paper on the beach in South Carolina,” Valdes said.
The goals that these two reefers always intended on were reducing plastic with different programs and seeing how they could help the ocean by growing their own reef.
The pandemic has had some negative impacts on a lot of small businesses, but not this business. Brownell stated that they are actually doing much better than before the pandemic hit.
Before the pandemic, one of their main sources of income was at Frag Fest. Frag fest are coral shows with plenty of vendors showcasing their coral.
“Similar to a local market how the vendors come in with vegetables, tomatoes, and things like that,” Valdes said.
Valdes stated that since the pandemic shut down these in-person shows, they had to pivot.
“Two weeks before the pandemic hit I was speaking with Bryant about our goals and one of them was redoing our website,” Valdes said.
Valdes and Brownell sat down and redid their website, and this became their biggest income when all the shows came to a stop.
“However, post-COVID we made the switch to digital and we realized that we were not making as much money as we could,” Brownell said. “ Were doing far better during COVID without the shows and we are able to ship coral.”
“Trust, transparency, and being able to bring a good amount of coral and educate our customers on what they’re purchasing has led us to have this success,” Valdes said.
Brownell stated that if Microsoft and Apple can start in their garage, he’s pretty sure they can too.
Low Tide Corals latest project is their 250 gallon tank. They are expanding and have several new projects coming up.