From the garage to a company for sustainable fishing equipment
Lead-free fishing with stone mounts – The stone starts rolling.
I, Karsten Jaszkowiak, came into contact with stone fishing by chance in 2014. I was immediately fascinated by the earthy idea of fishing with stones. I fished with simple prototypes for a year and was thrilled with the results. During an incredible carp fishing session in August 2014, my rod ran 24 times in one week. Among other things, I caught a 112 cm long and 17 kg armur – my current record fish. The decision was made. I start a company for sustainable fishing equipment and develop a well thought-out and reliable stone mount for carp fishing.
Find a partner for my fishing business!
So I started working and the idea matured. My vision quickly expanded and I began to understand the scope of the project. It became clear to me that I could not manage the growing tasks alone. Only the search for suitable business partners turned out to be more difficult than I expected. Fortunately, I held a small annual poker game with family and friends. The suddenly realised that a very reliable and enthusiastic angler was sitting opposite me at the table every year, while he was once again taking my trousers off financially. I initiated Martin and with each meeting his enthusiasm for the idea grew. In February 2016, we founded our company for ecologically sustainable fishing equipment and FISHSTONE was born.
Working together, the idea evolved and our idea grew into a whole kit for stone mounts. At least for the time being in our heads, but with a growing concept also grows the effort to realise it. We worked far more than 40 hours a week, found ingenious solutions, rejected them again. Again and again. The most exhausting thing about developing good fishing equipment is that so often we thought we had reached our goal, only to discover weaknesses again. So we ourselves and some insider friends put our prototypes through their paces again and again.
From the first prototype to the finished product
The first half of the year was really bad, but we continued to develop our stone mounts, driven by the will to create a superior product. And so the catches began to increase. From pole fishing to eel fishing to carp fishing, we became more successful with our lead-free fishing. On one of the many all-round test nights we caught roach, perch, eel, a pike and even a small catfish. In the third quarter of the year we were able to put a carp on the mat almost every night. We were overjoyed after many exhausting, successful nights to complete the functional development of our prototypes. We then submitted patent applications as an important building block of our company and celebrated like two little kings.
Now many more work packages followed, from financing, production preparation, marketing and design to product finalisation. It wasn’t always easy, but we were proud to now be able to present our toolkit based on natural stones with our first small image film.
With the 2017/18 trade fair season, FISHSTONE really got rolling. At our first carp fair, we were immediately overwhelmed by fantastic reception, openness for something new and very many positive reactions to our concept and our systems. It felt like a release, like taking a breath after a long phase of investing. We met for several weeks with friends and a box of beer in my flat, which reminded me of a factory, and packed boxes. I will never forget this time either. On the one hand by the incredible loyalty of my friends and on the other hand just the pictures of us sitting there and coming up with little packing competitions to make the tedious work more enjoyable – box by box by box. A true garage start-up and a crazy period in which living space in my flat was a very elastic concept.
High flight, low fall, great upheavals – FISHSTONE a wild roller coaster
What started with the trade fair continued through our first business year. On one day, the guys from the mighty Carpzilla introduced us and suddenly dealer enquiries were pouring in by the minute. Another personal highlight for me was when they agreed to let us present ourselves with a stand at the legendary Carp Zwolle. This was a clear sign for us to earn our place with FISHSTONE more and more, especially in the carp scene for the time being. This early phase of FISHSTONE was as gruelling as it was inspiring for us. One goosebump moment was followed by the next, there were bitter setbacks and defeats, but this life was such an exciting adventure that we persevered through all adversity and just kept going.
At this point we would like to thank from the bottom of our hearts all the business partners who put their trust in us, the supporters who generate a lot of attention for us and all the other companions along the way. You always give us the feeling that we are on the right track.
Unfortunately, Martin said goodbye to FISHSTONE in the summer of 2018 for private reasons. We gratefully remember this faithful companion as the man who started it all, with whom we laid the cornerstone for something together that sometimes feels incredible. We have had countless great experiences together and Martin will always leave his mark on FISHSTONE. Thank you Martin!
With Martin’s exit, I was now on my own. The second half of 2018 was tough and marked by transition. I moved into my first office as a subtenant of Soulbottles. It was actually just a board shack put together from chipboard but I was proud because it was next level. So we had to set up the office and reorganise and restructure all the processes, because all the work was impossible to do alone. We started working with the BWB – Werkstatt für Menschen mit Behinderung (workshop for people with disabilities), who pack our products and now also ship them. A lot of things were rebuilt and I could really keep myself busy.
Unfortunately, many projects were left undone because I was constantly running after the daily tasks. So I could hardly concentrate on what I do best – developing innovative fishing products. Marcel came to my rescue in 2019 as an important milestone. He is a passionate angler and was so enthusiastic about our concept and the mounts that he simply supported me on a voluntary basis for a long time until he finally became my first employee. Thanks to him, I was able to free up some time again and in 2019 we were mainly concerned with revisions. That’s how the optimised colour range came about, the sale of the single parts began and we brought out the ZIP 2.0.
Record, cut, YouTube
Looking back, one of the most important steps was probably shooting our first two films together with Marcel, because they gave me the idea for the series FISHSTONE’s Fishing Worlds. Through them I discovered my passion for producing videos. The 2019/2020 trade fair season went fantastically well again, but with the arrival of the Corona virus came a bitter setback. All the shops we were negotiating with suddenly didn’t want to take on new products. Due to the high salary costs and some personal backgrounds, Marcel and I unfortunately ended the cooperation again and I was once again faced with a hole in March 2020.
I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to Marcel at this point. You have shaped FISHSTONE, fought and feared for it, and you too are probably a decisive building block for the point we are at today. Anyone who follows our fishing series will realise that we still enjoy going on fishing trips together and this connection will probably always remain a part of us – The First Employee. Thank you very much!
Completely restructure FISHSTONE once again
A low blow is always a good moment to reflect and I did. Again from the scratch. Gathering new courage and finding solutions. Two years on the market and as great as it started, there was a bit of a hitch. The big breakthrough was missing. I became aware of two fundamental problems. I don’t have enough time and something keeps anglers from trying our systems, because those who tried it were usually extremely satisfied. Once again, friendship brought a decisive turning point. My friend Rene, international sales manager of his company and working short-time in his home office, had the roof falling on his head. He decided to do an internship with me, which actually meant he would come over and really straighten things up with me at FISHSTONE. His management experience and his interest in business development led to a complete restructuring of the entire company processes. Automate, structure, document was the motto and so in 2020 we put a stop to it and worked in secret on a big new start. At the end of this important step, we had achieved something incredible.
New fascinating products and a breath of fresh air
Our marketing, shipping, parts of production and many small building blocks were now automated. We had a new website and were now selling our products ourselves. We shot a fishing series with 21 episodes over the year 2020, cut many hours and in October 2020 it started. But most importantly: I had time to develop again. In 2021, we finished our XXweLs range and conquered a whole new fishing sector for the first time with a new, small and yet revolutionary product range. In collaboration with Torsten Ahrens, we have completed products for sea angling and thus lead-free alternatives for another angling sector. I involved my first two interns from the TU Berlin, Naveen and Yi-Min, in the development and built up enormous speed as a result.
I learned an extreme amount that year and realised that after all these years, I was finally starting to become an entrepreneur. I understood how this biggest social game of my life worked and knew how to operate within its rules. Along with that, an incredible team of people developed to contribute to FISHSTONE. All areas began to mature and interlock. Only with you this gigantic project is possible. This complete package gave FISHSTONE an overwhelming strength and energy from 2021 onwards and we were able to take the next decisive steps.
A clear result emerges from all these points:
FISHSTONE becomes more than a company. FISHSTONE becomes a movement! It stands for responsible fishing, for community and understanding, for environmental protection, clean waters and for change.
We have countless prototypes and ideas in store to expand our concept to more and more areas. We are working to not only sell products, but to bring our ideals even more into the angling scene through concrete practical action. We want to make a difference for nature and for a scene we are proud of and we have a whole season of fresh fishing worlds in store for you.
We hope you enjoy the videos, the products, our crew and we cordially invite you to become part of the FISHSTONE Movement.