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Friday, February 28, 2020

CEO Insider

CEO Spotlight: Mark Holyoake, CEO of Oakvest Holdings

As an avid entrepreneur, business developer, and real estate investor, Mark Holyoake has amassed over twenty-five years of experience within various business endeavors, leveraging a unique perspective on international relations, business scaling, and growth, unifying traditionally segmented sectors, and the ability to keenly recognize fruitful investments.

Through his vast experiences within the realm of commercial and residential real estate development and investment, and his tremendous success in the niche private seafood investment, Holyoake has expanded his portfolio to include several robust investments. As the Founder and CEO of Oakvest Holdings, as well as a Shareholder of International Seafood Holdings, and Bluevest Capital Partners, Holyoake has successfully leveraged these investment vehicles to amass great success, overall industry growth, and company-wide development.

Through International Seafood Holdings, you invested heavily into Iceland Seafood International, in the midst of Iceland’s economic crisis, instability, and hostile foreign relations. What made you see this as an opportunity so early on in your career?

Inherently interested in the niche seafood sector, I recognized the notion that a lack of cohesive collaboration between smaller companies was making communal local industry growth impossible. In such a highly fragmented industry, Iceland’s top fishing companies were running into a plateau and were unable to generate vertical growth based on an inability to cross-utilize peers’ resources. Thus, I recognized this as an opportunity to create systemic change within the entire local industry.

While many people may have seen the Icelandic economic instability as a frightening consideration, warding off all investment, I recognized those circumstances as being conducive to change, and open to any potential systems that could incite positive growth. With backs proverbially against the wall, businesses and individuals alike are much more willing to remain open-minded in terms of creating new infrastructure, streamlining processes, and gaining in-house operational control needed to gain positive returns.

With astounding results from this initial investment, you recently stepped down from the Board at Iceland Seafood International to make room for continued advancement. What strategic takeaways can be taken from this move?

After serving on the Board for nearly a decade, I felt as though the culmination of my innovative efforts has not only stabilized the company, but transformed the industry entirely, modernizing processes, uniting a traditionally fragmented sector, and bringing continued growth through the acquisition of partnering companies. At the time of my departure from the Board, roughly 27% of Iceland’s commercial fishing entities were Shareholders in ISI, proving the unification of efforts for the betterment of the entire sector. Essentially, my work was done.

As I held a large majority of shares in the company, selling some of those shares to fledgling and innovative partners would allow for ISI to continue to move forward with upward mobility, benefitting from the collaboration of additional companies. From a business perspective, owning fewer shares of an increasingly vertically integrated company would prove to be more financially fruitful than owning more shares of a company that would eventually become limited in growth potential due to my own control of majority shares. For all savvy entrepreneurs and investors, keeping earning potential open is a key element for continued growth in the value of a company, industry, and investment.

You recently launched Bluevest Capital Partners, a new investment vehicle that aims to provide funding for innovative companies within the seafood sector. Why did you choose this route?

Along with my partners within this venture, we have dozens upon dozens of years of pertinent experience within this niche private food industry. We have all successfully scaled these companies, built the infrastructure needed to support continued growth, and unified the sector to implement modernization efforts. While my evolution alongside ISI has been tremendous, I feel excited, and professionally fulfilled, by the idea of leveraging my experience to develop, grow, and harness the potential successes of fledgling companies within the sector. Unlike other investment funds, which primarily only focus on providing the monetary aspect, Bluevest will provide business mentoring, direction, and management services. To further prove our whole-hearted loyalty to successful investments, Bluevest will personally dedicate 10% of the investment directly.

For all entrepreneurs and investors, being passionate about a particular segment of investment is crucial to maintaining long-term motivation. For me, the food and real estate investment market have allowed me to parlay my skills, interests, and business savvy into meaningful investments. While the industries and specifics may vary, successful investors carry around an unwavering passion for their investments, personally motivated to manifest and maximize the successes of all investment.


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Emma London
Emma London is a columnist and member of the ​CEOWORLD magazine editorial board. She's one of the magazine's founding editors and leads global newsroom coverage and management. Having lived in five different countries — the United States, Canada, Australia, Spain, and the United Kingdom - Emma is obsessed with how tech empowers people from all walks of life. She is fluent in Spanish.
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