Olympia Yarger is the founder and CEO of Goterra, an impressive Canberra-based insect farm that manages waste and creates livestock feed.
Goterra and its autonomous robotics work with insects that can consume multiple times their body weight in food each day, including non-food items such as tooth picks, compostable cutlery, and recyclable coffee cups.
The insects then give back: producing manure that can be used for soil conditioning and the insects themselves are a nutritious feed for poultry and aquaculture.
Yarger also develops opportunities to establish regionally based insect farms through mentoring, and by providing resources to help integrate insect farming into already existing agricultural ecosystems.
It all forms part of Goterra’s mantra that climate change is the crisis of our time and attempts to address or mitigate it should be inspiring and purposeful.
Yarger’s just been named a finalist in the 2019 Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards, in the Emerging Entrepreneur category.
Our finalists are sharing some awesome career wisdom in these Q&As, as well as more on their back story and how they have emerged as a leader. See our growing hub for this content here.
How did you become an entrepreneur? Was it a deliberate decision or something that happen by chance?
I was looking for an alternate for livestock feed, initially I had thought I was just going to figure out how to farm insects as a sideline to my main business that was going to be free range poultry production. So, it happened by chance.
Give us your quick elevator pitch: What does your business do and where did the idea for it come from?
Goterra manages food waste in modular infrastructure that uses autonomous robotics to farm insects as a biological service.
Can you share three major contributing factors that have led to your businesses’ success so far?
Never be afraid to ask questions.
Know your business up and down the supply chain that it influences. Don’t just understand what you do, understand where you fit.
Keep good friends and good advisors close and check in regularly, no one ever got where they are alone.
What do you believe is the number one trait that makes a successful entrepreneur?
As well as your business, what other priorities do you juggle?
My husband, my children, my community and charity work, the mentees I work with.
How have mentors, sponsors or other kinds of support system aided your career?
I’ve been fortunate to have experienced and generous mentors and advisers who have been pivotal in supporting myself and Goterra as we continue to realise our mission.
Where do you currently get news and info regarding your industry and career?
General mainstream media like Al Jazeera and BBC. I listen to a lot of podcasts particularly from the Agtech and Agricultural space – Agtech So What Podcast is a favourite. A lot of industry newsletters and information from organisations like Agrifutures, Waste Management Resource Association.
Do you have a business/career book/podcast you’d recommend?
The Pitch and Without Fail are my two favourite podcasts. Women Who Run With The Wolves is my favourite book.