Working at Ambrook
Mackenzie Burnett, Jeff Anders, & Dan Schlosser
March 1, 2021
We started Ambrook (ambrook.com) with a mission to help farmers become more profitable and more sustainable. There is a virtuous cycle between profitability and sustainability in many natural resource industries, especially agriculture. Better soil health, water conservation, and climate resilience often leads to lower costs, increased yields, and price premiums for crops or livestock in the market. To reduce the upfront cost and knowledge barriers to implementing these practices, we are tackling an overlooked part of the operation: back office paperwork and financials. There’s tremendous room for improvement on existing software and time-consuming paperwork shuffling in the farm back office. Over time, we’ll expand beyond agriculture to other natural resource industries: fisheries, forestry, mining, water, energy, and more.
To accomplish this mission, Ambrook is building a financial management platform for agriculture, starting with tools that help farmers and ranchers automatically discover and apply to farm assistance (e.g. disaster relief, conservation programs, and climate incentives). We’re launching the first version of our full platform later this year. The founding team of Ambrook will be instrumental in building this product strategy and shaping our company culture.
Read about why farms, why fintech, and why now in our doc, “The Ambrook Opportunity.”
Working at Ambrook
We are designing the work environment that we each wish we had in previous experiences. From projects to processes to hanging out, we are intentional about how we interact as a team.
Ambrook is a fully remote team, and will be even after COVID. This has some incredible upsides:
It enables flexibility in our working styles and schedules. Outside of daily morning standups, we work when and how we want to. We exercise and run errands on a weekday, or take the occasional Friday off to go to a cabin in the mountains. We care much more about productive output than just counting the number of hours put in. That being said, we get energy from working with each other on interesting problems, and want to bring on people who feel the same motivation. Our founding team is the product of many years of coworking and building organizations and side projects together.
It enables us to bring on the best people regardless of location. We aren’t constrained to hiring just in the Bay Area or New York City, which is especially important because our customers live in more rural areas around the country. We’re focused on hiring in North American time zones for now, but will likely expand globally. This also means you can work from travel destinations (with reasonable wifi) if you want to see what it’s like to live in the rainforest or mountains or desert for a few months.
We’re aware that remote work can sometimes be lonely, especially during a pandemic, and have each felt that. Our habit of quietly coworking together using Tandem and getting together for virtual “Happy Hours & Feelings,” for example, keep us connected. We’re always accommodating to make sure the team can go outside for a walk or spend time with family or otherwise take the breaks they need to recharge. To ensure we’re living our best professional lives, we also provide each full-time team member with the following benefits:
Healthcare: Generous coverage to maintain your wellbeing
401k: With matching, to invest in your future
Parental leave: Paid time off for maternity or paternity care
Home office stipend: Make sure your setup is ideal
Wellness stipend: Don’t mess around with your mental and physical health
Travel stipend: Ad hoc work in-person with your teammates when you need to
Farm stay stipend: Support your local food system and get to know the farmers and different operation types in your area
Professional development: Take courses or coaches in the areas you’d like to grow, like marketing or management
Post-COVID, we’ll also be doing the following:
Coworking spaces: We’ll cover a desk at a community you can opt to work from
Retreats: We’ll host quarterly in-person team gatherings to fantastic locations for focused sprints and general ~team bonding~
We are an early-stage startup, so voluntary light working on weekends does happen from time to time, but with the following ground rules: (1) always optional, unless an emergency comes up, (2) no scheduled meetings, and (3) weekend work that gives you energy is encouraged (e.g. designing fun explorations, writing a creative strategy doc, etc).
Mackenzie Burnett, Dan Schlosser and Jeff Anders are the co-founders of Ambrook. We have a strong history of working together for over eight years, from building products to community organizing. The team has a strong expertise in building fintech and document processing products, and a personal interest in enabling climate resilience and sustainability for agriculture.
Mackenzie Burnett is the CEO of Ambrook. She grew up with conversations about ag policy around the dinner table, as her parents were long-time USDA career officials. Most recently, she finished a master’s degree in international policy and climate security from Stanford University, working as a summer analyst at Renewable Resources Group, an agricultural and water asset management firm in Los Angeles. She previously had cofounded a software infrastructure company that was funded by Y Combinator and acquired by CoreOS (acq: RHAT). For her work, she was recognized as Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2017 for Enterprise Software. Mackenzie is also on the Board of Directors for Interact, a community of mission-driven technologists. In her free time, she likes to explore local tide pools along the Pacific coast, read philosophy, and garden.
Dan Schlosser leads engineering for Ambrook. Dan is a Columbia CS grad and a former Associate Product Manager at Google, where he worked on Firebase and Google Drive. On the Drive team, Dan was the sole product owner for Google Drive’s 1B+ user consumer product and enterprise interoperability with legacy software, and managed a dedicated team of over 50 engineers and designers. While working at Google, Dan also moonlighted as an engineer and product manager at COVID Act Now, Interact, and a number of other organizations. Before joining Ambrook, Dan managed ML personalization products at The New York Times. Dan’s brother Ben runs an organic dairy with his partner Shelly in northern Vermont. When Dan visits, he splits his time milking cows and discussing Star Wars fan-theories with his older brother.
Jeff Anders leads design for Ambrook. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Emily (and just changed his last name from Hilnbrand to Anders). He loves nothing more than to be in the great outdoors or on a roller coaster. Work-wise, Jeff most recently headed the Design team at Scale AI as they grew from 30 to 200. Prior to that, Jeff worked on Facebook’s Groups and Payments teams, where he helped launch Marketplace, P2P payments, and international commerce on WhatsApp and Messenger. He also served as an early designer at Venmo, launched a 3D marketplace at Autodesk, and ran a design agency called Minimill with Dan. Jeff originally hails from Maryland, where he attended UMD for Product Design & Engineering – go Terps!
We ran a series of exercises to better understand our own founder values ahead of recruiting a team. We know our company values will be co-created with our early team and should evolve over time. That said, this set of five values guides how we think about our work at Ambrook:
Real Talk – We create space for ourselves and others to be straightforward, vulnerable, and accountable.
Seek Understanding – We are driven by curiosity and empathy to learn about our customers, team, and world.
Be Proactively Resourceful – We are internally motivated and externally empowered to identify opportunities and solve problems.
Derisk or Die – We lean into the biggest risks we face as a company and put in the work to address them systematically.
Find the Positive-Sum – We believe in creating incentive structures that align the needs of our company, our customers, and our planet.
Ambrook is an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to building diversity and inclusion into our core company culture.