Olympia Yarger – Founder – GoTerra
What problem are you solving?
So we solve the food waste management challenge, we address the cost of trucking and transporting food waste, and our process creates protein and soil conditioner – which in turn address food production challenges and soil health issues. We’re an answer to smart cities looking for closed loop, circular economy waste solutions.
Any words on the Digital / Tech Canberra ecosystem and community?
Canberra – believe it or not – is a really great place to start a business. The city is affordable, fun and we’ve got a willing Government who is trying to develop and enhance industry in the region. There’s a lack of some of the more community engagement events – like hack-athons and other things you’ll get more of in some of the bigger metros, but we’ve got ANU and UC who have some amazing collaboration and partnership opportunities.
The biggest challenge is Canberra’s image. We get a lot of interest from candidates – but find it hard to attract talent – e based on perceptions of big city vs regional city. Do you know what Canberra has that Sydney doesn’t? Dancing after 12am. Do you know what Sydney has that Canberra doesn’t? Traffic. : )
What’s the biggest challenge for Australian startups in your opinion?
The gap between a good idea and a true working prototype. We just don’t have the small size, non matched funding, R&D grants that could meaningfully propel a company to a prototype. This is particularly a barrier to founders who may not have the expertise to deliver on the tech solution. (like me)
I’m not talking big money here. I’m talking 5-30k.
What technology are you most looking forward to becoming mainstream in the next few years?
Smart toilets that don’t use drinking water to convey waste to the sewer. Surely we can disrupt that century’s old tech soon?
Any tips on building successful / cohesive teams?
Know who you are and what you actually need. I think it’s easy to think a little too hard about specific career expertise/accolades/achievements and not enough about who this person is and will they be able to execute the way you want them to. We use DISC profiling as part of building and maintaining team cohesion. Each of our staff member completes and understands their DISC profile. And we all know each other’s profile.
It’s a really useful tool when it comes to hiring new staff but also managing our work flow and communication style.
Secondly, don’t constrain your search to stereotypes of where you assume your potential candidates would be. Or what they should look like / or the kind of experience they should have. We’ve had really great success finding people when we’ve got rid of some of the more traditional hiring search ideas.
Startups are unique, you get to really define how you want these things to operate.
What’s on the record table / Spotify at the moment?
I buy my music instead of streaming – I think it’s important given how little money is going back to artists with streaming.
sorry rant over – I really only listen to music when I work out. So my play lists may seem a little odd: Hatebreed, Metallica, Disturbed, Eminem, Jungle Pussy, CardiB, kendrick lamar.
Favourite cocktail / Drink?
Vodka water. Just water. From a tap. No thank you to the ice, lime, umbrella, etc.
Other than your own, what are the three most valuable/most used apps on your phone?
apple podcasts, slack, Stake, Mobike