Nick Cotter was crowned the Grand Prize Winner of the in March 2022. Nick, from Limerick in Ireland, beat amazingly fierce competition from the other finalists, and impressed our judging panel with his company Cotter Agritech’s idea for a system for livestock farmers to better use anti-parasitic drugs, reducing the impact on biodiversity, bringing down costs and preventing parasitic resistance.
We caught up with Nick to hear about how things are progressing and how we found the overall experience of entering the competition.
To find out more about Cotter Agritech and their work click here.
Nick welcome to the Young Entrepreneurs Challenge Hall of Fame! What made you think it was the right competition for you to enter?
“It’s a very prestigious European competition. You just have to look at the previous winners and where they have gone since to see the quality of each year’s entrants. I expected it to be highly competitive (which it indeed was!) but I thought if we could tell our story in a compelling manner, that we had every shot of winning the grand final. We also thought that if we could get access to Verizon and Unloc’s expertise through this competition, that it would accelerate our development and move us forward.”
The final was quite a nerve wracking event, how did you feel in the days beforehand?
“We felt both tense and excited in the days leading up to it. We were hard at work prepping the pitch and doing mock Q&A’s to be ready for anything the judges might throw at us. I believe the work is done in training, so we really focused on that to be well prepared for the final.”
How did you find the Grand Final and delivering your pitch to the panel?
“By the time the final came around I was reasonably relaxed to be honest, as I knew we had done everything we could do in the days before to prepare ourselves and give the best chance of success.
The pitch is very tight at 5 mins – but it’s a great exercise to condense your idea, and put focus around it. The panel was testing but we have been working on this for 2 years now so we know our idea inside out, and I was able to answer the questions confidently and concisely.”
Were you shocked when you were announced as the winner?
“To even be shortlisted for the final was a huge honour, so to win was an absolute bonus. I couldn’t believe we had won, it was just unbelievable. The quality of the other 4 finalists was very high – medtech, sustainable clothing, the other ideas were very current and relevant to the challenges of the current global climate.
As an ag-tech startup it’s a very important award from a support point of view. Agriculture is under significant pressure to become more productive to feed the projected 10 billion people by 2050, and to also meet ambitious sustainability targets.
It’s a huge boost to have Verizon and Unloc recognise the innovation ongoing in Agriculture, to shine a light on it, and support this type of innovation. It’s a huge vote of confidence in sustainable animal production. We are just over the moon, and so proud of the thousands of hours this team has put into bringing this to fruition.”
How are you investing your £10,000 prize funding?
“We have invested it in the production of video testimonials with test farmers who used the solution in 2021, so the funding has been of huge immediate value in kickstarting our launch and accelerating uptake and adoption, and we’re very grateful to Unloc and Verizon for their support.”
What are your ambitions for Cotter Agritech and where would you like to see the business go in the future?
“We want to operate on a global scale – we’ve chosen to solve a global problem so the ambition is to make our solution accessible to all sheep farmers around the world to deliver this value to all farmers, and eventually move onto solving the same problem for cattle and goat farmers too. As someone who grew up on a sheep farm, there are a lot more problems to solve and we just see these as opportunities. So I see Cotter Agritech becoming an industry leader in animal agtech, solving more problems for livestock farmers to help them become more productive, profitable, sustainable and viable going forward.”
What would you say to any other aspiring young people out there considering entering this year’s Young Entrepreneurs Challenge?
“Just go and do it – enter, because the sooner you find out whether it’s a good or bad idea, the sooner you find the right idea, and the sooner you can have an impact and achieve your ambitions. It’s just a fabulous experience to be a part of.
Startups go through 6-7 life and death moments every year, and some even every month, so awards like this are of huge value in terms of being undeniable achievements that you can’t deny from yourself, and you can look at them and they will give you the confidence to go with the idea, and keep moving forward.”
Nick, thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us, we’ll be keeping a close eye on your progress!
Click here to visit the Cotter Agritech website and find out more about their work.
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