This is part of a series of interviews with members of the Foundation for Young Australians Young Social Pioneers program which supports Australia’s best and brightest emerging social entrepreneurs and innovators, aged 18-29. The program amplifies their social change purpose, builds networks of support and develops their business skills and capabilities to drive successful purpose-driven ventures.
Josh is from Nabiac, a small town on the Mid North Coast of NSW. While he works as a consultant for one of the Top 4 accounting firms in his day job, Josh is also one of Australia’s prominent social entrepreneurs in the food and climate change space, being selected within the top 6 of Australia for his agricultural podcast, Tractor Talks, which has been downloaded in over 10 countries.website twitter facebook LinkedIn
Josh is passionate about his strong heritage and works actively to break down stereotypes in 2 key areas – agriculture and Aboriginal communities. He has also been involved in numerous advocacy and not-for-profit organisations, including Earth Hour, The Australian Red Cross, NSW Farmers and The Rural Fire Service.
Most recently, Josh led the NSW Young Farmers’ Council in moving a motion at the NSW Farmers Annual Conference, attracting national and international media corporations, international social media attention and Al Gore (45th US Vice President). Due to this involvement, Josh has also been asked to attend the COP21 climate conference in Paris later this year. His work extends well beyond this, speaking at agricultural engagements around Australia on topics such as youth in agriculture, social media and recently presenting on the social licence to farm to the NSW Government. He is well engaged with the media and enjoys sharing positive stories about agriculture and his Indigenous heritage.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
Tractor Talks is an agricultural podcast that gives farmers from around the world the opportunity to learn how to incorporate new innovative ideas while mustering cattle in Brazil, picking tea leaves in India or harvesting wheat in Australia. The idea is simple – 9 out of 10 farmers learn from other farmers, so we give them the ability to learn via a podcast while they complete other farm duties.
I used to travel 4 hours a day to university and travel extensively on weekends to farming events. I would spend up to 30 hours a week in the car and recognised that podcasts really had the ability to share great information in a short time. Tractor Talks was born out of the belief that I could use my network of agricultural rockstars to help shake up the agricultural world, while also taking farmers on a journey to ensure we can feed an additional 2.3 billion people in the next 35 years.
Can you explain your business model to us?
I see Tractor Talks providing value for 4 key stakeholders:
- The farmer – who improves efficiencies and is able to grow more food off less land.
- The consumer – who will receive the benefit of these efficiencies and will continue to have access to safe, affordable and healthy food.
- An advertiser – Tractor Talks is the only opportunity for a company to advertise across all commodities in agriculture, right around the world.
- Tractor Talks – obtains advertising revenue to ensure the long term viability of the podcast.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year?
Tractor Talks is currently in the process of becoming more professional, ensuring greater outcomes for listeners right across the world. While I do this, I am also working on my next startup to create better opportunities for those living in remote Indigenous communities. I’m really keen to continue giving back and ensuring that there are equal opportunities for all people, no matter where you live.
How do you make ideas happen?
I have a strong desire to create change and gain inspiration from being around and learning from great people. My Great Grandmother once told me that whatever I put my mind to I could achieve, which I have blended with my parents inspiration of helping people out. This has generated my passion and drive for making my ideas happen, especially when it has the ability to impact someone’s life in the future.
What does your typical day look like?
Coffee, meetings, phone calls, emails and more coffee. During the week I work office hours as a consultant (which involves a bit of travel around Australia) and of a weekend I am usually back on the farm with the cows. What makes the weekends perfect is if I am at the farm with my whole family and Grandparents – there is something special about sharing over 40,000 years of agricultural stories with 3 generations at the table.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
Being a sole founder has been my biggest challenge, especially in an industry where no-one really talked business other than prices and the word entrepreneur was the last thing anyone considered practical.
Keeping motivated while juggling everything else and ensuring not to burn out has really been the hardest aspect, one in which I haven’t always been able to do quite right.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
A coffee delivery service in the bush- every morning on the farm I have a craving for a barista made coffee! More seriously, it would be fantastic to have an international portal of agricultural education resources so that we can continue to share innovative ideas right around the world. Too often we focus heavily on what’s going on at a local scale, rather than recognising the whole world is our paddock and it is up to us to look after it.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
There are absolutely incredible agropreneurs on every farm right around the world, especially in Australia. Our agricultural industry is the home of entrepreneurship in Australia, with the first self-made millionaire a cattle farmer!
Every day I am inspired by the stories of what farmers are doing on the land, the issue is being able to share that with the wider agricultural sector around the world – that’s where Tractor Talks come in.
I am also part of a network of inspirational farmers in the climate change space – farmers who really care for the future of our planet and their impact on the land. Each one is doing amazing things each day, managing the environment while feeding the world.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
Can you name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter?
Anna Rose: @annarose
Fiona Simson: @afsnsw
NSW Young Farmers: @NSWYF
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
I’m always keen to share what I am doing and would love to have more people involved, especially in the funding and marketing areas!
We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc., what would it be?
To me, I love hearing about people’s motivations and why they start. My question(s) would therefore have to be – what’s your why and what motivated you to get started?
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
I love my local cafe up by the farm- The Greenhouse Cottage at Nabiac.
Estabar in Newcastle is also fantastic – good coffee, gelato and beach views, it doesn’t get any better than that!
Also, check out the Planet to Plate cookbook, highlighting the effects of climate change on food production (https://earthhour.org.au/cookbook-purchase/)