5 min read

Get to know Startup Coach Caspar - RootCamp Team Interview

By Sandy Khorshed on Jun 15, 2022 9:36:25 AM

Get to know Caspar Olenhusen! He is one of RootCamp's startup coaches with passion for agriculture since his childhood. During his career in different countries like the USA and the UK he  collected a wide amount of knowledge and know-how to coach startups in the agribusiness and ag-tech scene.

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Caspar. I live in Hamburg, but I was born and raised near Göttingen on a farm. I studied Agricultural Management in Germany and got my international MBA in Food & Agribusiness in the USA and UK. I worked for the seed company KWS, John Deere, the food startup Lizza and the Venture Capital Fund Oyster Bay. Since November 21, I have been responsible for the GIZ Livestock Tech-Startup Accelerator in Africa, co-financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Describe us your role as a Startup Coach at RootCamp.

Every week, I have a session with the founders to discuss strategic matters and guide them through the RootCamp programme. The company strategy, the founders' urgent questions, and the pitch deck in preparation for customer or investor presentations are often in the centre. I would count my work as a success if I could ask the right questions and develop a trustworthy relationship with the founders. 

Why did you choose to work for RootCamp?

I love to get in touch with exceptional founders in the agri-food-tech sector, and RootCamp does precisely that. It is a position where I can leverage my experience in the best way, and I can learn something every day.

When was the first time you got excited and interested in agri-food-tech and sustainability?

As a kid, you would either find me eating or near a tractor. Growing up on the farm, my first interactions with my grandfather on the farm sparked my interest. Food and Agriculture have become more interconnected than ever before. I believe that nature (and technology) can teach and help us solve any challenge. So the need for more sustainability feels natural and inevitable too.

From an early age, Caspar was fascinated by agriculture.

Do you remember the first day at RootCamp? What was it like, and what were your first thoughts?

It was in October 2021, and the COVID pandemic was still very present. I liked the atmosphere, and the meeting with Philipp and Gaia underlined that we can achieve great things here and that our work is essential for the ecosystem.

In retrospect, what was your favourite project? 

The teams and work are too different from picking a favourite - I can tell you some highlights and key takeaways instead. The most rewardful to see is each team's progress in strategy, customer growth or pitching over this short period. Further, I was astonished at how fast we could develop trust to tackle tough questions and challenges.

Share with us some personal facts about you.

I just had my civil wedding, and I am thrilled about the time ahead as a husband. I have 24 first cousins. My friends and family accepted my sometimes annoying hyper-excitement about agri-food-tech topics. I like craftmanship, building stuff with my hands, and spending the most time in nature. And dogs, I love dogs.

What is something you're planning on doing in the next year that you've never done?

Together with my wife, we plan to move to Africa for some years. Further, we are looking for a little farm outside of Hamburg.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

It was more like a spontaneously role play with my former boss I got into. It showed me the power and need for more empathy and the importance of being able to put oneself in someone's position.

About Innovation Hub RootCamp

RootCamp is a multi-partner innovation-hub for technology-oriented startups and intrapreneurs from the agri-food tech and bioeconomy sector. RootCamp is part of the SpinLab Family based in Leipzig and was initiated by K+S AG. It maintains a vibrant ecosystem and can count as partners on KWS, SKW, hannoverimpuls as well as Agritechnica.

We offer different startup programs which run up to twelve months and startups are supported by a grant of up to 50K EUR per team. A fundamental part of the programs is the collaboration between startups and corporate partners to develop new ideas and implement suitable solutions, in the form of pilot projects. The “Acceleration Program” addresses young startups and provides assistance as well as a network of mentors, industry experts and investors. Established startups are taking advantage of the “Fast Track” to rapidly enter collaboration projects with our partners.

The deadline to apply for RootCamo batch #4 ends on 23rd August! Apply now for our startup accelerator program to work with experienced coaches like Caspar.

Topics: agriculture startups RootCamp Interview Team
4 min read

Meet RootCamp Mentor Alexandra Vázquez Bea Veganz Group AG

By Gaia Amatteis on Mar 31, 2022 9:00:00 AM

Young startups face many questions at the beginning of their journey in building a successful business. Uncertainties regarding their business idea, the company presentation to potential investors, product management and employee recruiting determine the everyday life of young founders. Therefore, it is highly recommended to seek the advice of external industry experts in the early stages.

RootCamp supports startups who want to accelerate their paths to market and have a positive impact in the Agritech sector with disruptive solutions. We provide an acceleration curriculum for early stage and fuel later stage startups. We connect you with great hands-on mentors with experience in your industry. Our mentors are well-known experts who support you strategically during the program and help you to solve concrete technical or managerial problems.

Today we want to introduce you to RootCamp mentor Alexandra Vázquez Bea from our network.

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Alexandra Vázquez Bea. I hold the position of Executive Board member for Finance, Investor Relations, Human Resources and IT at Veganz Group AG. I have over 15 years of professional and leadership experience in the finance and startup fields. I worked in Corporate Finance at NORD/LB for almost seven years before becoming a restructuring consultant at FTI Andersch AG. In this role, I advised on complex restructuring and refinancing projects across Europe. In 2016, I started my own company, LENCHEN – Der Lebkuchen and led the startup to become a well-established name in the delicatessen pastry sector. Since July 2021, I have been working for Veganz Group AG as the Executive Board member responsible for Finance, IR, Human Resources and IT. Along with my entry came the official kick-off of the company's IPO, which was successfully closed in just under 4.5 months in November 2021. I am an active mentor in the startup scene.

How did you get into the AgriFood Tech industry?

My first contact with the AgriFood Tech industry was through my own startup in the delicacies business. Here I learned a lot about this industry. From the right use of raw materials over product development to the distribution and proper marketing of food products. During this time I was able to build up a good network in the food/agritech startup industry. This ultimately led to my contact with my current employer Veganz Group AG, and I have remained loyal to the industry within my current position.

What does mentoring mean to you personally?

I have experienced the ups and downs, the ambition, but also the challenges that one is confronted with during the early startup phase myself and have learned lots of lessons during this process. I often recognize my own experiences in the situations of the startups. I am glad to be able to pass on my experience and knowledge to young founders. And I also do learn a lot within a mentoring process. This is a two way street and I appreciate the ambition and dedication of the founders to a great extent.

Why did you decide to support RootCamp startups as a mentor?

I think it's great to be able to actively support startups in developing and establishing a working business model. Through my professional experience, I know the Food and AgriFood Tech industry well. Therefore RootCamp is a perfect match. Furthermore, I think RootCamps approach differs a lot from other accelerator programs and with its focus on mentoring gives the right impulses to the startups.

Alexandra has provided great support for our startups, especially in the area of financing.

What requirements do startups need for a successful mentoring relationship?

For a successful mentoring relationship, it is important that the people behind have confidence in their business, in themselves and in the mentoring. They have to be open-minded and willing to closely work together to identify challenges and find solutions. To get it going, of course, a certain enthusiasm and commitment must be present.

Are you an agritech startup that wants to scale your business idea to its full potential and have a positive impact in the AgriFood Tech sector? Then apply now for the next RootCamp batch! We are looking for startups across the globe to join our program. Our vast and diverse network with mentors like Alexandra will accompany you.

➡️ We are constantly looking for individuals willing to support founders that bring a range of skill sets to the table. If you’re interested in being a RootCamp mentor, just shoot a message to our Program Manager, Gaia Amatteis.

Topics: Mentor Bios agriculture Interview
4 min read

Meet RootCamp Startup wiCow

By Gaia Amatteis on Mar 9, 2022 12:56:28 PM

Regularly we want to present you the startups that are part of the RootCamp program. In the interview series we introduce you to the founders, their innovative technology and how RootCamp has taken the startup to the next level. Get to know wiCow of batch #2.

Topics: Startup Bios Interview
3 min read

Meet RootCamp Startup FibriTech

By Gaia Amatteis on Mar 2, 2022 11:51:14 AM

Regularly we want to present you the startups that are part of the RootCamp program. In the interview series we introduce you to the founders, their innovative technology and how RootCamp has taken the startup to the next level. This time we want to introduce you FibriTech who are part of RootCamp batch #2.

Topics: Startup Bios agriculture Interview
3 min read

Meet RootCamp Startup Contagra

By Gaia Amatteis on Feb 23, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Regularly, we want to present you the startups that are part of the RootCamp program. In this interview series we introduce you to the founders, their innovative technology and how RootCamp has taken the startup to the next level. Get to know Contagra of RootCamp batch #2.

Topics: Learnings agriculture startups Interview
3 min read

Meet RootCamp Startup DigiFarm

By Gaia Amatteis on Feb 16, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Regularly, we want to present you the startups that are part of the RootCamp program. In this interview series we introduce you to the founders, their innovative technology and how RootCamp has taken the startup to the next level. Get to know DigiFarm of RootCamp batch #2 and its co-founder Nils Helset. 

Topics: Startup Bios Interview
3 min read

Meet RootCamp Startup E-Terry

By Gaia Amatteis on Feb 2, 2022 1:16:19 PM

Regularly, we want to present you the startups that are part of the RootCamp program. In this interview series we introduce you to the founders, their innovative technology and how RootCamp has taken the startup to the next level. Get to know E-Terry of batch #2.

Topics: Startup Bios Interview
4 min read

Meet RootCamp Startup GeoPard Agriculture

By Gaia Amatteis on Jan 20, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Regularly we want to present you the startups that are part of the RootCamp program. In the interview series we introduce you to the founders, their innovative technology and how RootCamp has taken the startup to the next level. Let's start with GeoPard from Cologne (Germany) of batch #2.

Topics: Startup Bios Interview