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Interview with Nathan MacPhee, Invest Inya Farmer

Posted 5 months ago

 

This month we spoke to Nathan MacPhee, founder of Invest Inya Farmer (IIF). Nathan shared his problem solving method of using first principles, unpacked how lockdown grounded him to enjoy the small moments with family, and how he believes that good leaders enable people to innovate, rather than needing to be the innovators themselves.

Can you tell us a little about your current role, and what you do?

I am the founder of IIF, a start-up that enables anyone to invest in agriculture without owning a farm. A founder’s role is diverse, so I do everything from sales, testing, customer service, finance, and HR.

What’s your background, and how has innovation featured throughout your career?

My background has primarily been within the financial services industry in Australia and abroad. I have been blessed in my career, having had the opportunity to be CEO of three organisations, each at different stages and operating in different market segments. Being the CEO provides great liberties and the ability to dedicate time and allocate resources to innovative endeavours. Thus, innovation has been central to my career.

Do you have a regular morning routine? How does that set you up for success each day?

Since COVID, I am not an early riser and tend to get up around 7.30 am, enjoy a coffee and then spend about an hour reading news and current affairs. Everything from world, business, sport. It opens my mind and then lets me focus on work-related items.

What is your approach when a creative project gets stuck or delayed?
When I am stuck on a problem I always try and go back to the basic principles – what are we trying to solve? I clear the noise and focus on the core problem and prioritise what is important, rather than what appears urgent.

 

“When I am stuck on a problem I always try and go back to the basic principles – what are we trying to solve?”

 

In your opinion, what leadership traits or skills best enable innovation to flourish?

I think good leaders enable people to innovate, rather than needing to be the innovators themselves. I believe innovation can come from anywhere, but often people need permission and support to think differently.

“I think good leaders enable people to innovate, rather than needing to be the innovators themselves.”

 

What is successful innovation to you?

For me, the simplest test of innovation is to answer positively to….is it desirable, feasible and viable? I.e., is it wanted, can it be done and commercially, should it be done?

What program or software would you be lost without at work?

Excel – I love spreadsheets.

Tell us about a project you were involved in that ‘failed’. What did you learn?

I was involved in the development and launch of a large and complex financial services platform. We had a solid strategy and supportive foundation customers; however, we tried to be too big too soon. The feature set was too large, and we built onboarding and support to scale when the core product wasn’t sufficiently stable. Although our customers loved the story, the experience didn’t live up to it. There are too many valuable lessons to share in this interview but always make sure you add real value before scaling.

What start-up, research or new technology are you excited about right now?

I find artificial intelligence (AI) particularly interesting as the proliferation of technology has led to the capture of vast amounts of data. AI’s ability to rapidly analyse and interpret these great volumes of data can lead to much better decision making and automation will drive high levels of efficiency.

What is your biggest challenge currently? 

The biggest challenge I am currently facing is bringing new ways of thinking to a traditionally conservative industry – agriculture. While farmers are technologically advanced in many ways, risk management and financing have not evolved in the industry and consumers have not traditionally played an active role.

What behaviour or habit has most improved your life?

For me, eating regular meals with the family since the start of COVID has most improved my life. A prolific traveller and worker, I spent many years away and missed a lot of the small things. It’s those that bring most joy now.

How do you stay up to date on industry trends and news?

I read a lot of news in general but when I am researching a problem, I will often read extensive industry research reports and even legislation to understand the landscape.

What two things do you hope to accomplish over the next twelve months?

  1. Professionally I am excited to see IIF launch into the public domain and start to connect more farmers and consumers in a meaningful way.
  2. Personally, I look forward to an uninterrupted snow season.

“Professionally I am excited to see IIF launch into the public domain and start to connect more farmers and consumers in a meaningful way.”

Where can we find you on social media?

You will find me on social media, but I am not a prolific poster, rather a consumer of information and opinion. I find LinkedIn particularly interesting for articles and updates.

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