AgTech conference highlights local and global opportunities, as Herdwatch acquires Bullmatch.ie

Fabien Peyaud, Herdwatch, with Brian and Teresa Kelly of Bullmatch.ie pictured at Local Enterprise Week 2019 at Cork County Council's Local Enterprise Office. Picture: Diane Cusack

Cattle registry and monitoring app Herdwatch has just acquired Bullmatch.ie, which optimises matches between bulls and heifers, for an undisclosed sum.

Herdwatch founder and CEO, Fabien Peyaud, unveiled the acquisition during his keynote speech at the AgTech conference in Fota Island Resort, Cork, hosted by Cork Co Council’s Local Enterprise Office (LEO) as part of the nationwide Local Enterprise Week series of events.

“People describe Herdwatch as the 'CRM for cows' and they say Bullmatch is 'like Tinder for bulls', so it seems like a natural acquisition,” he said.

An Irish agtech leader, Herdwatch has gained over 10,000 farmer users in five years. Herdwatch is based in Roscrea, Co Tipperary.

It was founded in 2011 Fabien Peyaud, backed by FRS Farm Relief Services and by FRS chief executive Peter Byrne.

Fabien's research at the time showed that over 90% of cattle farmers did not use any form of herd management software.

Bullmatch was launched in 2017 by Brian Kelly, who is the owner of Lena Farm, Kilinaboy, Co Clare.

He created the app with his wife Teresa to ensure that calves comply with the Beef Data and Genomics Programme.

Both Herdwatch and Bullmatch have been expanded steadily in recent years. AgTech was an appropriate setting to unveil the merging of the two companies.

The conference theme was 'The Challenges and Opportunities of the AgTech Evolution'.

The event brought together some of Irish agri-food's leading and longest-established companies, along with rapidly growing new tech service providers.

Fabien Peyaud also told AgTech attendees that Irish farmers must benefit from agri-technology for the sector to become a force globally.

He said more farm apps should gather under one umbrella for the convenience of farmers.

“Consumers benefit from agtech in terms of enhanced food quality. Marketers benefit in having the data to be able to promote proven quality product for a premium price. Farmers also need to make gains from agtech.

“The data belongs 100% to farmers. We have 10,000 farmers on Herdwatch. There's no reason why we can't get more of the 200,000 in Ireland and the UK.

We just need to incentivise farmers to move into the electronic management of their farms.

Mr Peyaud said that farmers have been fast movers in adopting new technologies, despite the sector's tight margins.

He advised agtech sector startups they will face challenges in seeking to scale up their business.

“Strategic business partnerships are one good option in agtech, as long as you have the right partner,” said Mr Peyaud.

“Getting critical mass is another big challenge. And your business model is another.

“Agtech is neither B2B [business to business] or B2C [business to consumer]. Farmers are more of a hybrid, more B2F, business to farmer. Farmers are great to work with, very loyal people. They'll also tell you the truth, good and bad.

“They'll also tell other farmers about your product. That is basically how we have gotten to where we are so far."

Other speakers at AgTech included Seamus O'Mahony, Dairygold; Dermot Forristal, Teagasc; Karol Kissane, Nuffield scholar; Padraig Hennessy, Terra NutriTech; Dr Eoghan Finneran, FarmEye; Martin Deady, Dairy Geyser; Alan Jagoe, Agri Aware; Ursula Kelly, Cormac Tagging; Tom O'Connor, FarmHand; and Brian Kelly of Bullmatch.ie.

The AgTech conference was formally opened and closed by Joe Burke, assistant head of enterprise, LEO South Cork.

He urged people looking to develop their business ideas to visit LEO South Cork's services online.

See #AgTechCork on social media for commentary on the event.

www.localenterprise.ie/southcork

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