Hamoon Shishechian is an international entrepreneur who has seen the world.

MIE Grad Takes NVC Win to International Success

September 16, 2022 • By Keith Giles

Hamoon Shishechian is an international entrepreneur who has seen the world.

“I was born in Tehran, Iran, moved as a baby with my family to Malaysia where we lived for six years, and then we ended up in Singapore,” he says.

After living in Singapore for almost four years, Hamoon’s family received a visa to move to the United States, where he received his education. This culminated in earning his Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MIE) degree from The Merage School at UCI in 2022.

“After graduating from UCSD in 2019, I was looking to further my education,” he says. “My sister, Bahar, was an alumnus at UCI, so I was very familiar with the school, and since I lived in Orange County most of my life, tutored at UCI through the AVID Program, and even gave some tours there, it just made sense for me to get my master’s degree there.”


Mastering Innovation

During the recent pandemic, Hamoon felt compelled to take advantage of the downtime. “I didn’t want to just sit around,” he says. “That’s when I discovered the MIE program at UCI. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, I had never really seen a master’s program that really focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship. So, I applied and got accepted, for which I was really excited.”

 What especially intrigued Hamoon about the MIE program was the unique set of instructors he was able to work with. “They weren’t just professors who were teaching us out of a textbook,” he says. “They were actually entrepreneurs who had succeeded in the business world. That was really unique.”


Family Business

After graduation, Hamoon came back to Singapore to open his own business and to help with his family’s business as well.

“I come from a family of shrimp farmers,” Hamoon says. “My father’s company, Blue Aqua International, was started in 2009 developing and selling farm care products. From there, we began farming shrimp and now produce up to 150 tons of shrimp per year in Singapore that we sell to super markets, high-end restaurants, and hotels around the world. Today the company operates in 14 countries.” 


Feeding Frenzy

While a student in the MIE program, Hamoon started thinking about starting his own business. “I started thinking about ways I could help my family business succeed, and how one of the biggest challenges facing their industry is finding affordable feed for the shrimp they produce.”

After realizing that the current system wasn’t sustainable in the long term, Hamoon came up with an idea that could affordably supplement the feed using lower-cost protein sources. “The idea was to use insects as a fish meal replacement,” he says. “So, if we started an insect farm to serve as a protein source for our shrimp, we need to find an affordable way to feed those insects.”


Healthy Supplements

What Hamoon found was that other companies had already tried using wheat and other sources to feed insects to be raised for fish meal. “Most of those other solutions didn’t work because they were using food sources that cost too much, or that weren’t providing the nutritional value,” he says.

Another mistake was that some were trying to eliminate fish meal entirely and this is why they failed. “You can’t use 100 percent insect protein,” he says. “What we’re trying to do is lower the dependency on fish meal within the industry and provide a healthy food supplement. We wanted to consider the impact on the ecosystem and the food we take out of the ocean and find ways to reduce that.”


Flying Success

With this in mind, Hamoon and his business partner started looking for viable food sources that people would almost pay to have taken off their hands. “That’s when we got the idea to approach various airline companies about taking their food leftovers,” he says.

After a meeting with Emirates Airlines and their catering company, Hamoon and his business partner found their solution. “Our company, Blue Aqua Food Tech, is the first company in Singapore to be granted this license,” he says. “Now we can start using this low-cost organic waste to feed the insects which can then be used as an affordable protein supplement for our shrimp farm.”


Shark Tank

One particular thing that helped Hamoon launch his own company was the opportunity to enter the annual NVC [New Venture Competition]. “My professors urged me to enter and create a team because it could help me earn some funding to start my new business,” he says. “So, that’s when I really started getting busy. I even started watching a lot of Shark Tank videos to get prepared and talking to myself in the mirror to practice my pitch like a crazy person. By the time I made it to the final round, there were over a hundred people in the crowd watching us. It was a very intense atmosphere. My big goal was just to do my pitch and not mess up.”

Fortunately, Hamoon not only nailed his pitch, but he also won first place in the Social Enterprise track. “That was my first step,” he says. “Now I’m entering accelerator programs and going back to the U.S. soon to expand Blue Aqua Food Tech in the States.”


Dream On

As if all of this wasn’t enough of a dream come true, Hamoon recently had the opportunity to invite Dean Williamson to tour Blue Aqua’s operations in Singapore. “I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “A month after shaking the Dean’s hand at graduation in Irvine, California, I was meeting him again in Singapore and showing him around our family business. It was amazing!”


Game Changer

Hamoon incubated all of this as a student at The Merage School and he’s grateful for the many opportunities the MIE program provided him. “I had a lot of help from Professor Larry Wilk, who was really a mentor to me,” he says. “It was a really great program. I really learned a lot. I came into this as a recent college graduate who had never done anything like this before and they really helped me in ways I could never have imagined.”


To learn more about the UCI Masters of Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, visit