The Sprout team is anchored by a culture of ‘going to the trenches’ with early stage companies. Everyone on the team has real company start-up & growth experience and is focused on putting founders first.
The team acts as an advisory group that includes experienced entrepreneurs, business owners and investors with interests in all areas of agritech, from irrigation research to food production and supply chain.
James is a Co-Founder & General Manager of the Sprout Accelerator. James has led all aspects of Sprout’s growth from day one and drives the vision for Sprout to be the go-to accelerator for agritech entrepreneurs around the world to launch and grow their ventures. James’ connection with agriculture and the food sector runs deep, having grown up working the manufacturing line at the family animal and crop health company Bell-Booth Group. Previous to Sprout, James spent six years as Head of Global Sales & Marketing for a software supplier to the world’s largest consumer electronics companies including Intel, AMD, Dell, HP, Sony, Acer, Asus. Under James’ leadership market share grew from 15% to 60% and the companies revenue grew by over 50% YoY.
Stu was a co-founder of Precision Irrigation (acquired by Lindsay Corporation NYSE:LNN). The Precision Irrigation technology is now offered as part of Lindsay’s Zimmatic Irrigation Systems around the world. Stu is also co-founder of AgriOptics North Ltd (acquired by PGG Wrightson). Stu has extensive experience and success in commercialising products and services in the agricultural sector.
One thing Chelsea knows really well is talking and listening to the farming community. Chelsea joins the Sprout team from AgriHQ and FMG, where she has excelled in all areas of marketing from field sales to social media communications. She is the founder and CEO of Grass Roots Media Ltd, a consultancy designed to help companies translate their often technical language into something farmers can understand.
Jonathan has brought his passion for agritech to life in global agribusinesses over the last 10 years. Most recently Jonathan was the CTO & COO at Turners & Growers (T&G) Global (NZE:TGG), a $1B fresh produce marketing and distribution business. Previous to T&G, Jonathan was the Group Manager of Fonterra, the largest dairy exporter in the world, where he headed up their $400M retail business. Jonathan also co-founded the Y-Combinator backed, 1000memories which successfully raise capital from one of Silicon Valley’s premier venture capital funds, Greylock Partners (also investors in Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox). 1000 Memories was acquired by Ancestry.com
Dean is the CEO of The Factory & a co-founder of Sprout. Dean has been involved in agritech commercialisation for over 15 years. He is a Director of Levno, an IoT business operating in fuel, water and milk management on farm; Director of FoodHQ, Founding Trustee of New Zealand Angel Association and received the award for services to Angel Investment in 2018. Dean has been involved in raising over $20M in early stage funding for agritech start-ups from investors in New Zealand, the US & Europe.
Stephen has been involved in investment banking and capital raising for the last 20 years. Stephen is an active agritech angel investor. He is a director of Koru Diagnostics, a new animal diagnostics start-up recently graduated from Sprout.
Dr Karin Schofield
Karin is grounded in science, having researched, managed, protected and commercialised it in NZ and the UK, both in Universities and the private industry. She currently works at AgResearch Ltd where she manages commercial clients and science/industry interactions.
Sprout Advisory Group
The Sprout Advisory Group is made up of a diverse range of successful entrepreneurs, investors, industry thought leaders and stakeholders. Their mandate is to assist the Sprout team in defining strategy for the Sprout Accelerator.
John Signal - Chair
John is an agribusiness leader, with specific passion for high quality protein. His roles include:
Chair: Proten - Australasia's highest quality broiler chicken farm business
Chair: Pasture Pet Foods
Director: Ovation - Exporting free range lamb from NZ to the world
Director: Venison Meat Packers
Marcel van den Assum
Marcel is an experienced technology company investor & director. Roles include:
Chair: Green Button (acquired by Microsoft)
Chair: Flick Electric Co
Chair: Merlot Aero
Former Director: Agritech start-up CropX
Former CIO: Fonterra - the worlds largest dairy products exporter
Ana holds a number of key governance roles with a focus on growing the knowledge & wealth of Maori in New Zealand. She was recently on the pre-seed funding board of Scion, a research organisation focused on value add research to forestry & wood. Current roles include:
Board Member: Lakes District Health Board
Executive Director Strategic Partnerships & Maori Success: Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology
Ben is an experienced technology company executive. Ben is currently VP of business development & marketing for Georgian Partners, a Toronto based VC fund, specifically investing in companies using the latest software technologies to differentiate their businesses. Previous roles include:
VP Business Development & Marketing: Georgian Partners
Program Director: IBM
Adjunct Executive Professor: Northwestern University
Professor Claire Massey
Claire is currently the Director of Stakeholder engagement for the college of Sciences at Massey University, one of the world’s top agricultural & food technology universities.
Colin is an experienced food, beverage & agritech director & investor. He was formally the head of M&A for Tetra Laval, one of the world’s largest food production, processing and packing companies. Colin currently serves on a number of boards including:
Chair: Deosan - an animal health product manufacturer & marketer
Director: Oriens Capital - a boutique investment fund focused on accelerating the growth of small & medium sized businesses
Dan is a leader in applied research of technology for sustainable growing. He is also the founder of Page Bloomer, an agritech technical validation consultancy where they use their micro-farm in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand to validate and sort fact from fiction with new agritech technologies. His current roles include:
Founder & Director: Landwise - promoting sustainable production through research, leadership & support
Founder & Director: Page Bloomer Associates - a consultancy specialising in technical validation and value assessment of agricultural technologies
Rich is a thought leader in change management for organisations. The thought leadership comes from having led one of the worlds largest dairy equipment companies through a rapid pace of change. Previous roles include:
CEO & Founder: ChangeQ
Interim CEO: Seadragon
CEO: DeLaval Oceania
Director DeLaval: Global Purchasing & Logistics