Oceanworks Team Spotlight: Founder and President Rob Ianelli
Why not! I knew it was going to be incredibly challenging to build Oceanworks from the ground up, but the challenge and the opportunity made it too hard to resist. Growing up, the ocean was the highlight of my childhood. Spending summers on Martha’s Vineyard, the beach became a huge part of my life then, and certainly remains now. Oceanworks got its start because of the beach, in fact, my favorite beach, Norton Point.
As an entrepreneur, solving large problems is an addictive habit. Thinking about what Oceanworks could accomplish and the chance to build an entirely new industry was something you don’t usually get a shot at in life. I couldn’t be more proud of our team and where we are going.
How do you live a more sustainable lifestyle?
Living in Santa Monica, California, it’s a bikers heaven. I try to ride my bike as often as possible to the office. It’s a great way to get some exercise in and there’s really no excuses with the gorgeous bike lanes the city has and the weather in SoCal is beyond perfection.
How do you sea plastic differently?
When it comes to plastic, my wife and I take a lot of consideration on our plastic foot-print. I straight up refuse to use the plastic bags at the grocery store for produce. It ends up being a few weird looks at the check out, but it’s all getting washed anyway! Other than that, there are so many small changes you can make as a start. One of our favorites in our apartment is our Berkey water filter that has completely made our water taste delicious, but also helps us avoid bottled water.
Biggest challenges you’ve faced on the job
Starting from zero. I remember sitting at the board table of our first investor who was kind enough to lend me a work space. As I was working diligently day in and day out, I realized how deep I had gone to make Oceanworks become just a slice of reality. It was certainly a telling moment one day when I looked out of the window with the Pacific Ocean in the distance and questioned to myself “What on earth do you think you’re doing?.” It’s been an incredible ride thus far and I am fortunate and grateful to embrace the challenges, day in and day out.
Favorite part of working at Oceanworks?
Doing business around the world. I have a degree in International Relations and I studied abroad several times during college. I love to travel and I love seeing and understanding how the machine of the world turns. The best part about working at Oceanworks is doing business with customers and suppliers from just about every continent. Threading it all together into a global supply chain has been an absolute thrill.
What do you want to see made out of ocean plastic?
So many things. Lately I’ve been having this strange obsession with making a telephone pole out of ocean plastic. It’s bizarrely possible ( I “think” ) but curiosity has traditionally served me well. Who knows? Other than that, I am equally obsessed with making shopping carts from ocean plastic. Target, Whole Foods, Walmart? If you’re reading this, get with Oceanworks!
If you could be a sea creature what would you be and why
It’s not quite a sea creature in terms of underwater aquatic living, but my all-time favorite thing to do is watch an Osprey dive and come back up from underwater with a fish in its talons. It’s a mind altering thing to witness and a total spectacle of natural awe and beauty.
If I could be any “sea” creature I think an Orca would be really awesome. Just keep me away from Sea World!
What’s your favorite (ocean related) thing to do outside of work?
Saltwater fly fishing. I started this up last year and although I’ve fished most of my life, the entire process of saltwater fly fishing is a complete and total zen. I haven’t done it much out in California, but it’s a great ocean activity because you can travel and fish as well, which is something I’m hoping to do this year. Outside of fishing, I love sailing and the peaceful vibe it brings without a shred of sound and a solid breeze across the beam. A cold beer also doesn’t hurt the process.