Wednesday, 20 November 2019 12:55

Accelerator programme sprouting agritech investment

Written by  Pam Tipa
Powerplant founder Kevin D’Ambros-Smith. Powerplant founder Kevin D’Ambros-Smith.

The Sprout Accelerator programme is amazing, says Powerplant founder Kevin D’Ambros-Smith.

Sprout provides mentoring, coaching, back-up and possible access to investment loans for agritech and food focused entrepreneurs and start-ups.

D’Ambros-Smith says it transformed his business and the Sprout team challenged his assumptions and industry knowledge.

“It introduced us to people. It challenged us on things we hadn’t considered or thought about, it opened our minds,” he told Rural News

Powerplant is in the development stages of a hydroponics growing system aimed at small to medium commercial growers. It plans to target overseas markets.

The system’s point of difference is its scalability and adaptability to different growing spaces.

“The Sprout Accelerator programme totally pulled apart everything we had assumed, which was great,” D’Ambros-Smith said.

“We walked in there thinking we had something really good and they challenged us and made us realise we didn’t know this or that. Or that we should talk to this person. 

“It gave us opportunities we would have taken a lot longer to find ourselves.”

He says he can’t speak highly enough of the course. 

“It made us pull back. We would have rushed off and done stuff and wasted a lot more money.  From a growing point of view, from a customer point of view, it has just been outstanding.”

D’Ambros-Smith has much experience in successful business start-up, mainly in online retail, and he is from a top Auckland advertising agency background. But he says there was much more to learn. A newcomer to agri, he has now become fascinated with the horticulture and agritech sector.

He says Sprout has been excellent in assisting with both local and international contacts.

D’Ambros-Smith says as a result of the learnings gained in the Sprout Accelerator they have pivoted the business and now have two clear business opportunities they are actively pursuing.  

“One of these opportunities came about as a direct result of our Sprout advisor recommending we talk to a specific company as he saw an opportunity for us to work together and made an introduction for us. This led to a totally new business opportunity for our company. 

“The team at Sprout are outstanding, with a vast range of knowledge and expertise from agritech through to sales and capital raising,” he said. 

“I learnt so much, absorbed so much, it was sensational.”

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