Jilly Grant, Co-Founder and CEO of Herd Advance

Scholarship Winner Jilly Duncan Grant

Last year we announced the Mary Margaret Forbes Memorial Scholarship, created to honor my late mother by supporting women founders around the globe. This year, to commemorate her birthday, we’re delighted to share our first scholarship winner.

Jilly Duncan Grant is the Co-Founder and CEO of Herd Advance, a technology company in Aberdeenshire, Scotland bringing a new level of sustainability to the beef industry. By “digitising the herd,” which includes monitoring the cows with infrared technology, the animals get to be happier because they can eat grass and, well, be cows, without extensive human interference. Farmers benefit from better productivity and lower labor costs, making the overall supply chain more sustainable. 

Jilly was in our summer cohort in Scotland last year, and after observing her through the program, we knew she was the one. The scholarship is a coaching and mentorship program valued at $25,000, where we’re supporting Jilly to build out Herd Advance’s plan for scale and refine her skill set as a CEO. 

(Interestingly, I learned her family is from the same wee town in the Scottish Highlands as my mother. Coincidence? Who’s to say?)

To give you a closer look at the types of work we do in our IMPERIA programs, we asked Jilly to share some of her experience and key learnings from our summer cohort.

What was your key takeaway from the IMPERIA summer cohort in Scotland?

There were 2, actually:

(1) A framework and toolbox to know how to overcome and deal with the challenges ahead. 

(2) An understanding that you’re not the only one experiencing the loneliness that comes with being an entrepreneur — especially when you’re also a woman. Being in a room with other women in different sectors, and at different stages, yet sharing similar experiences and worries, was hugely beneficial. There was someone who had already been there and experienced it and overcome the problem, so they could share advice and support.

What changes have you noticed in yourself, or in the way you think?

Confidence. I’ve realized the truer phrase is not “fake it til you make it,” but rather “fake it until you become it.” It’s a slow build of confidence based on your own skills and experience, and suddenly one day it’s not scary anymore — you just do it and you’re good at it. Confidence becomes who you are, and you have enough knowledge and experience to contribute to others as an equal.

What’s your ultimate goal with Herd Advance?

The ultimate goal is to deliver change within the global livestock industry to create a sustainable future, while improving profitability in a low-carbon and high-animal health/welfare way. We want to relieve as much stress as possible in the lives of the animals.

We love us some baby animals, and we’re wondering how much fun you get to have with the baby coos (Scottish for cows) in your herds.

The Highland Cows (our pets) that we breed, once weaned, come to our home farm where my kids look after them until they’re big enough to be with the grownup cows. We can’t play with the ones from the commercial herd because their mums don’t like it. Highland Cows, however, are like golden retrievers. The only challenge is the horns.

Highland Coos, the Golden Retrievers of the cow domain. You’re welcome.


Global Round-Up is our Friday collection of interesting tidbits and tools from around the globe, curated to support women founders as they scale their ideas.

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