Updated: June 15
Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Abbe Hyde, CEO @ Winely
How would you describe your career path in a few words?
I would describe my career path as me navigating an amazing journey in discovering how technology can solve many of the problems we face today. I have always seen myself as a researcher. I love collaborating with scientists, engineers, technologists, and other innovative minds to help make a difference.
For example, after previously founding a tech startup of my own, I turned my attention to climate change— an important area where there’s much improvement to be made. There were so many misconceptions because much of the science is undiscovered. I felt that by digging in more, we could make a real change.
Once I started looking closer, I saw that much of the discussion surrounding this topic has revolved around the need to sacrifice many of our everyday activities— such as putting an end to driving, manufacturing, etc.
I knew that there was a way to view this issue through an alternative lens. I met my amazing co-founder, who was steeped in and passionate about biotechnology. He educated me about alternative proteins and the science behind them. More importantly, we discussed how we could scale the production of everything we do, whether it was cars, fuel, or even wine— without having to destroy the planet.
I see my career as an ongoing progression of being able to put pieces together to solve worldly problems. I have been working with technologists and engineers at Winely to help implement many of the things Jake and I discovered. This has resulted in a process that can help the wine industry be more efficient and sustainable while producing better wine.
What was your most challenging experience and has it changed your mindset?
In recent memory, we as a team at Winely have gone through our own ups and downs. I remember feeling stretched thin when we were running out of money right in the middle of one of our first projects. We had to live and work in a van as we continued to develop our software while staying connected to our clients. Despite these struggles, I learned that we could weather any storm as long as we stay true to our mission of making a meaningful difference in the world.
When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain context, what do you think?
My approach is to observe closely, gather all the information, and make a decision based on these factors. You have to first understand the situation at hand. This was my approach when I was first thinking about how Winely’s technology would work as a business venture. If presented to potential customers, what would they think about it? Would it truly benefit them? This is where doing market research really helped fill in the gaps. As a team, we did our homework beforehand and were able to prepare for any potential scenario that would come our way.
Low and behold, that uncertain situation arrived with COVID-19. In New Zealand, we went through a level 4 lockdown mandate. This required many wineries to stay shut with only essential workers allowed on site. We worried about the impact this would have on our clients’ wineries. Looking back on it now, it’s very rewarding to see how we were able to help winemakers adapt accordingly and do their work from home.
Much of the work they did involve observing the fermentation process of the wines. Our technology was instrumental in generating and supplying the information they needed while they stayed at home. Since much of our initial research was based on how our technology could support clients remotely, we were able to help them weather the lockdown period. It’s been very reassuring of the work we do.
What's the key success factor for a female entrepreneur in cross cultural context based on your experience?
An important success factor in a cross-cultural setting is to help the team see what everyone has in common and to align ourselves with a shared goal. I always saw myself in two roles: one as a researcher and the other as a founder.
I went into the biofuel and alternative energy space with a lot of curiosity and a desire to solve important problems. I feel that having a burning passion for the end goal is paramount to success, particularly within a cross-cultural setting because it brings the team together despite our differences. That is how I became a female founder before Winely. I was working within a tech company where we had a seven-person team. By connecting on a shared mission, we managed to raise the necessary funding before we decided to pursue different ventures. That’s what led to me co-founding Winely along with Jake. At every step of the way, we approached our roles with a solution-oriented mindset. I always focused on guiding my team around a common goal.
Based on your experience, what's the key success factor for a female leader/manager?
There was one important formative experience in particular that helped orient me as a female leader, which was my participation in Young Enterprise. The organization mentors many young individuals and guides them as they learn more about business, finance, and other vital topics. Many of my insights came from that early experience of wanting to learn more and grow. I brought that same learning mindset to my career. At every step, even when I was launching my own startup, I sought people who carried the same orientation towards helping others learn and understand more.
For example, I wanted to help transform the transportation sector and make it more sustainable. I interviewed as many companies as I could who were willing to share their knowledge and brainstorm solutions. This should be the standard for every organization and the individuals involved. How can we create more understanding and nurture collaboration among peers in order for organizations to discover new solutions to important problems?