Joshua Abra – Co-Founder – vintrace

 

In your own words, can you introduce your company and yourselves?

At vintrace, we help global winemakers make great wine as efficiently and sustainably as possible using our Cloud software platform. Our team is diverse and spread between our Melbourne and US offices. All our R&D is done here in Collingwood, Melbourne.

Complimenting our fantastic engineering team, we’re proud to have a passionate crew of wine industry professionals who bring passion and energy to vintrace every day. A passion for their craft fuels wine industry professionals, and we enjoy reflecting that in our work and getting to sample the results.

 

What problem are you solving?

It all boils down to time and quality. We want to save the former and improve the latter. Winemakers experience an onslaught during the vintage/harvest season and can get caught out without great planning tools. The weather naturally plays a significant part, and it’s one of the few beverage-based industries where you can’t just start over and make another batch. You get one shot to get it right, but when you do, the result is impressive—perfection and Terroir (sense of place) in a glass. We like to think vintrace helps in producing that perfect drop.

Any thoughts on the Digital / Tech Melbourne (Sydney, Brisbane etc.) ecosystem and community?

If you know where to look, there’s such a fantastic ecosystem of people all willing to support each other. Aside from the usual developer and technology meetups, programs like start-up Victoria’s Pitch Night, incubator programs, and Growth Club are all fantastic. Check them out.

What’s the biggest challenge for Australian start-ups in your opinion?

1. Funding can be a distraction. There is a view that you need to raise capital early before identifying product/market fit. From the sidelines, I see many start-ups spending a lot of time on fundraising and often end up with more investors than customers, which can dilute their position and influence. If you can avoid the washing cycle of VC or PE funding until you’ve got a proven product/market fit, you’ll be a stronger business for it. Go back yourself and give it a go.

2. Finding great people is also a challenge. We have no shortage of great talent in Australia, but it’s certainly hard to compete as a start-up to attract people. Think about what incentives you can offer that will create ‘bragging rights’ within your employee’s peer network and be sure to look after your great people. We aim to immerse our staff in the culture of food and wine, creating a really great work environment.

What technology are you most looking forward to becoming mainstream in the next few years?

I’m excited by some of the new vineyard robotics and automation. Some fascinating drone, satellite, and even image recognition projects are underway, being developed hand in hand with winemakers. These technologies will help our customers identify and deal with potential disease, pest, and climate issues much faster and minimise any risk of loss and wastage.

Do you have any tips/insights on building successful/cohesive teams?

It’s essential to bring a diverse set of people from different backgrounds together that are passionate about what they do. Then promote openness, communication and ensure there exists a healthy tension between what needs to be achieved and how we get there. Then get out of their way!

Ensure there’s time to celebrate wins and understand the losses. Above all … don’t be a jerk. No one likes negativity; it’s toxic, so be sure to avoid those personality types in your teams.

What’s on your record table/ Spotify at the moment?

We do have a playlist called Winemaking by vintrace, which I listen to a lot. It’s influenced by the infamous The Yeastie Boys—a group of winemakers who are undeniably the world’s greatest and hardest working band to ever emerge from the Yarra Valley.

It’s fronted by some outstanding winemakers, including Paul Bridgeman (Levantine Hills), Bill Downie (Downie Wines), Mark O’Callaghan and Stuart Pride (Pride Wines). Check them out on Facebook and get to the next gig.

I’m also spinning the newly re-cut Nirvana Nevermind on vinyl right now, Johnny Cash, Nick Cave, and Spiderbait. A bit old school—Covid has made me nostalgic.

The last gig poster we worked up for the Yeastie Boys which was Van Halen inspired.

What’s your Favourite cocktail/drink?

I don’t play favourites, but I would say coffee in the morning and Cabernet after dark. I love all varieties of wine in the right setting and matched with the right food. For spicy Indian food, I choose an off-dry Riesling. As an aperitif… it’s always Champagne. And we’ve got some great Tassie sparkling that give the French a run for their money. Mid-week, I might go for something like a Sangiovese or Nebbiolo from King Valley or check out some cracking Yarra Valley pinot.

What are the three most valuable/most-used apps on your phone?

Audible. I listen to many audiobooks, and I find it’s great to plug these into a walk at lunch or a run to get through them very quickly.

Fender Play. Got my first real six-string! I bought it during the last lock-down and played it till my fingers bled. It’s now in the corner shed.

Strava. I aim to run about 32-42kms a week and love the tradition of a long Sunday run. Culminating in at least one-half marathon each month. Strava is great to keep track of everything from shoe life to fitness over time.