This week, Sprout welcomes the experience of Amanda Gilbertson to the team as a Sprout Talent Scout. Amanda will be connecting with businesses and entrepreneurs in Waikato, Bay of Plenty, East Cape and Hawke’s Bay.
We interviewed Amanda about her experience in the Primary Industries, quizzed her on her love for agritech and asked what advice she’d give agritech entrepreneurs looking to apply for Sprout.
Amanda is one of a few people in New Zealand who can say they have experience across multiple sectors within the Primary Industries. Her story starts at her parents Pipfruit Orchard and nursery in Hawke’s Bay where she grew up immersed in the Horticulture industry and quickly fell in love with everything about the sector.
Fast forward a few year’s and this environment positioned her well for a student summer job at Hort Research, and it was here she had her first job out of University. She then went to work for Enza in the Market Access team before pivoting and heading into animals with a move to Wellington to work for the Pork Industry.
She then went on to work as a Contractor for Meat and Wool NZ, (Beef+Lamb NZ), and acquired a husband who worked for Zespri. At one stage she worked out she had most of the Primary Industry covered except for Dairy but has since found out a lot about the ‘money end’ of the cows with some recent work with LIC.
“All this career experience highlighted to me that I did have a real passion for the Primary Industries….and food! However, the area I was most passionate about was that of agritech,” Amanda said.
This epiphany lead her to move from traditional agribusinesses into the government organisation Callaghan Innovation, where she helped companies access Grants for their R & D.
Highlights including funding for Horticultural robotics, and working with other entrepreneurial companies in Tauranga. Her most recent role was Business Development Manager with WNT Ventures, a tech incubator which looked for entrepreneurs who would fit the investment portfolio of investors connected with the organisation.
When asked for her view on the New Zealand agritech scene, she reiterated comments from Peter Wren-Hilton after his trip to the AgTech Forum in Silicon Valley:
“Technology in New Zealand is as good, if not better than USA. We just don’t scale fast enough, or throw money at it and take it to the world. We’ve got to stop just thinking locally - entrepreneurs need to start thinking globally and Kiwi entrepreneurs especially need to realise they’re really good at what they do!”
“I’m really excited to be joining the Sprout team. When the opportunity arose I jumped on it because I like the people involved in the accelerator. They’re founder focused, female friendly and work well with everyone along the journey. They really create a nice middle ground where they value people - they’re not a soft touch nor a hard sell. Everyone I’ve told about my new role with Sprout have said ‘wow, good on you.’ In two years the accelerator and its team have built a really good reputation in the industry. As the accelerator develops, the value it offers agritech start-ups will become more and more desirable, which will create greater competition to get into each cohort.”
Finally, Amanda said the one piece of advice she’d give agritech entrepreneurs looking to apply would be to be prepared to live and breath it.
“You've got to be absolutely passionate for the ups and downs - building resilience to take the company forward is imperative.”
If you’re interested in the Sprout Agritech Accelerator and live in Waikato, Bay of Plenty, East Cape or Hawke’s Bay regions then get in touch with Amanda on the below contact details. She’s happy to talk to anyone, anytime. For her it’s all about networking and trying to help you unlock your passion. Talk to her early, even if you don’t think you’re quite ready because she wants you to maximise your opportunity to join the exciting world of Agritech and Sprout.
Sprout Talent Scout
027 229 9244