Paul Hodson, Cambridge Incubator Ecosystem Manager, speaks to Richard Hobson, a member of Cambridge Eagle Lab about his business, Herdsy and his plans for the future.

Tell us a little more about what Herdsy does, I’ve heard something about tracking mountain goats in the Everest – tell us more.

Everest that would certainly be a challenge, no we were asked to track Cashmere Goats in a cold desert in Inner Mongolia. We have also been asked to track £2mn  Buffalos in South Africa as well as Rhino and game animals. Normally, we just track beef cattle, we take their activity, like a Fitbit but convert it into profitability data, as Beef farmers have really low profit margins and even the smallest thing can decimate the profitability of an entire Herd. I think people forget sometimes that farming is a business. 

When did you start your business?

We started the company in 2016 but we had been working on the Herdsy concept for a while prior to that, the recession in Ireland ensured that funding for anything was almost impossible. So we decided to reach out to Cambridge when we discovered that, the Cambridgeshire Combined authority was actively seeking Agritech companies to set up in Cambridge. This was a stroke of good fortune that has served the company very well.  I can't imagine the company being based anywhere else. 

How will your products impact farmers of the future?

Great Question,  The Beef Industry is worth $2.1Tn, yet beef farmers have no tech like the dairy industry has, that has seen the dairy being able to take advantage of economies of scale. Our Products will help Beef Farmers globally access affordable technology that will enable them to become more profitable by sending the animals to market at the right time for them, a lot of beef farmers get this wrong and end up sending their animals to market either too soon or late, losing out on vital income as they have no data and can only use their eyes to gauge their animals. Last year British Farmers were fined £8.8mn for sending over-fattened cattle to market. Our technology will allow farmers to increase their profitability per animal, daily, weekly & Monthly that's why at Herdsy we take the guesswork out of livestock farming. The world is getting hungrier and needs more farmers & farmers need to be profitable to survive and stay in business and that's what we do at Herdsy.

What have been your biggest challenges to get where you are today?

Our biggest challenges have been to keep hitting milestones and keep the company going even through setbacks and challenges, especially since we haven't raised any money yet and it has all come from bootstrapping by the founders.  I think staying focused and sticking to your guns is vital, especially when the world is telling you that you're wrong. On a Friday after a hard week and having very little money in the bank to show for it sometimes you wonder, why am I doing this, Why don't I get a real job? Being an innovator can sometimes be a lonely place to find yourself. The Challenge is not how many punches you give but how many you can take and still get back up, metal resilience is key for an entrepreneur.

How has Eagle Labs supported you and your business?

Eagle labs have been an incredible base for us,  through eagle labs network we have been able to meet other great and likeminded people, plus the staff are super friendly and nothing is ever too much trouble. The great thing about the lab is how freewheeling it is, you never know what is going to happen or who you will meet next. Being at Eagle Labs really put us on the map as a company and I don't think we would have been nominated as a Finalist for Cambridge Agtech Company of the Year had we not been in the labs. The Sweedish Philosopher Christian Morgenstern said "Home is not where you live but where you are understood" and this Eagle Labs for us.

What does the future hold for Herdsy – what are your plans and your next big challenge?

At Herdsy we have goals & a strategy to become the biggest firm in Beef Tech. We would want to create a global company that is regarded as one of the most profitable, most innovative and most respected companies in our industry. Our next big challenge is to raise enough funds to fund our expansion, we have proven our technology and proven that sales aren't an issue for us. So our next big challenge is to find visionary investors that will help us expand into Europe & North America. If you know any let us know,  :) 

As an Entrepreneur what tips do you have for founders starting out on their journey?

Wow,  hard question, I think for me I would advise people not to beat up on themselves too much, as there are tonnes of people out there that are going to do that for you for free.  One word I heard a lot from people was "That's Impossible" even from so-called experts and I knew they were wrong. So do your research before you start on the journey, so much that in fact you can go toe to toe with any "Expert" because most likely there will come a time when you will have to and you will need that sector knowledge, once you have that and you still think your right, stick to your guns because that way you'll always be outnumbered but never outgunned.

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