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Working at Ambrook

Photo of Dan Schlosser
Photo of Jeff Anders
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By Mackenzie Burnett, Jeff Anders, & Dan Schlosser

Mar 1, 2021

The Problem

Ambrook is built on the philosophy of pragmatic environmentalism: if you care about the earth, then you should care about the people whose jobs are to be stewards of the earth.

The largest group of these stewards, by land mass, are farmers. But most agriculture today is neither sustainable nor resilient. More than 40% of U.S. land and freshwater is devoted to farming, and U.S. agriculture contributes to upwards of 25% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, climate change is already devastating agriculture and rural communities. (“Adapt or die,” was what one producer told us for Ambrook Research.)

Ambrook’s Opportunity

Fortunately, many sustainable farming practices (e.g. cover cropping) both reduce agriculture’s climate impact and make farms more resilient. However, many farms are not investing in sustainability because of thin margins, antiquated tools, and a lack of financing.

Ambrook builds simple, collaborative financial management software for farms, from grant discovery, to bookkeeping and spend management with cards. With Ambrook, farmers have a clear view into their financial present and future, can improve their margins, and get easier access to credit.

Over time, we plan to layer in sustainable financing and resource management. Once we’ve solved this problem for agriculture, we’ll expand to other natural resource industries – fisheries, forestry, mining – faced with the same problem of making sustainability profitable.

You can read more about our mission in Not Boring’s recent feature on Ambrook.

Ambrook in the News

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

  • Coworking spaces: We’ll cover a desk at a community you can opt to work from

  • Retreats: We host quarterly in-person team gatherings in 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).

Founding Team

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. Moreover, we’re building a strong founding team that has expertise in building fintech and mobile products, and a personal interest in enabling climate resilience and sustainability for agriculture.


Screenshots from the early days of Ambrook.

Screenshot from team game night when Jeff showed us Zoom’s latest interactive feature.

Mackenzie Burnett comes from a USDA family, and cares deeply about the financial and environmental security of agricultural producers. She has prior experience working in community nonprofits, water asset management and open source software infrastructure. She holds an M.A. in international policy and climate security from Stanford University, and a B.A. in government and politics from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Jeff Anders is passionate about using design and technology to make an impact on climate change. He previously led design at Scale AI and worked on design teams at Meta, Minimill, Autodesk, and Venmo. Jeff lives in Denver, Colorado and has a B.S. in Product Design & Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Dan Schlosser has spent his career building products at companies of all sizes, from large companies like Google and The New York Times to small startups and nonprofits like Covid Act Now and The Next 50. He graduated from Columbia University with a B.S. in Computer Science and a minor in Music, and grew up with his brother Ben, who is now an organic dairy farmer in Vermont.

Ali Aas is a multidisciplinary designer passionate about the intersection of technology and the environment. She served as a Creative Director at Upstatement where she worked on award-winning projects including Grist and The Arnold Arboretum. Ali believes design can be a steward for sustainability and is eager to help farmers thrive in the face of a changing climate.

Atticus Graven spent his early career teasing out intent and incentives from transactional data in the US organized energy markets. At Ambrook he is able to pursue his true passion—supporting food producers to feed the world in a sustainable, non-exploitative way that reconnects us all to the food we eat. He has a M.S. in Agricultural Economics from the University of California, Davis, and a B.S. in Mathematics from Ursinus College.

Brian Shin is a technologist who enjoys applying his engineering skills to real world problems. Prior to joining Ambrook, he worked at Butterfly Network and Facebook building iOS and Android applications. Brian has a B.S. in Computer Science from Columbia University.

Chris So is excited about using technology to improve the lives of individuals and communities. Prior to working at Ambrook, Chris built software products at Google and Verily. He has a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Columbia University.

Dylan Hoang is deeply passionate about building altruistic software and is excited about Ambrook's role in addressing the climate crisis. He has previously developed applications at Bloomberg and Verily. Dylan holds a B.S. in Computer Science from UCLA.

John Slinkman joined Ambrook because he believes that farm profitability is intrinsically linked to environmental justice and sustainability. He brings a wealth of experience building software and software teams for companies ranging from early stage startups to major government contractors. He holds a Masters in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin and Bachelors in Economics from the University of Virginia.

Our Values

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:

  • Reach Understanding – We are driven by curiosity and empathy to learn about our customers, team, and world.

  • Communicate with Real Talk – We create space for ourselves and others to be straightforward, vulnerable, and accountable.

  • Be Proactively Resourceful – We are internally motivated and externally empowered to identify opportunities and solve problems.

  • Derisk Thoughtfully – 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.

We're growing our team!

Authors


Photo of Mackenzie Burnett

Mackenzie Burnett

Mackenzie Burnett is the CEO of Ambrook. She grew up with conversations about ag policy around the dinner table, within a family of 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.

Photo of Jeff Anders

Jeff Anders

Jeff is Co-Founder at Ambrook, where he leads design. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Emily and daughter Nellie. He loves to be in the great outdoors or on a roller coaster. Jeff previously worked at Scale AI, Meta's Payments and Groups teams, Minimill, Autodesk, and Venmo. Jeff originally hails from Maryland, where he attended UMD for Product Design & Engineering.

Photo of Dan Schlosser

Dan Schlosser

Dan Schlosser leads engineering for Ambrook. Dan is a Columbia CS grad and a former 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. While working at Google, Dan also moonlighted as an engineer and product manager at COVID Act Now, Interact, and a number of other non-profit organizations. Before joining Ambrook, Dan managed ML personalization products at The New York Times.