The Cork entrepreneur aiming to disrupt one of Ireland's oldest industries

Horse trading in Ireland dates back to Brian Boru, Michael O'Flynn wants to move it online
The Cork entrepreneur aiming to disrupt one of Ireland's oldest industries

Michael O’Flynn set up HorsePay Ltd to allow sellers achieve better prices and protect buyers from being misled.

A Cork entrepreneur has developed a new horse listings website with a built-in payment platform and warranty promise which aims to restore trust and confidence in the industry.

Michael O’Flynn set up the online advertising platform HorsePay Ltd to allow sellers achieve better prices and protect buyers from being misled. It is the latest startup aiming to disrupt long-established business practices through the introduction of technology.

According to Teagasc, the Irish Equine Industry is worth €816m with most of the sector’s growth benefiting rural towns and villages.

60% of Ireland’s 14,830 active breeders are in the Western and South-western counties; there are 14,057 full-time job equivalents in the Irish sport horse industry while a total of 5,527 sport horses worth €48m were exported in 2016.

Parts of Munster are synonymous with horse-trading. Annual events like the Cahirmee Horse Fair held in Buttevant each July attracts thousands of buyers and sellers and dates back centuries.

Mr O’Flynn said he has been involved with horses and ponies “for as long as I can remember” and has heard numerous stories over the years about people who have been “caught out” after buying an animal.

“I have always been aware of the problem but what I wanted to find out was how it was making people feel and I discovered there was a lack of trust and confidence in the process of purchasing equine.

“And, so the website was established with the sole purpose of bringing confidence and trust back into that side of things.

HorsePay uses built-in transaction payment system powered by Stripe, developed by Limerick's Collison brothers, and a seven-day warranty to increase the level of trust in the industry which Mr O’Flynn says was necessary because confidence had diminished in recent times.

“The built-in payment platform allows us to provide an Escrow service - a contractual arrangement in which a third party receives and disburses money or property for the primary transacting parties, most generally, used with plentiful terms that conduct the rightful actions that follow - and this allows us to provide a warranty to people who are buying horses or ponies on our website," he told the Irish Examiner.

“In the past, people have been misled or caught out when they were buying. Horses have vices or habits that the purchaser doesn’t know they have until they have the horse home for a couple of days.

“These vices include box-walking or wind-sucking - different habits they pick up in the stable. With box-walking, the horses will keep walking around and around the stable, creating anxiety as they go and teaching other horses to behave in the same way.

“So, if you buy a horse for €10,000 and he turns out to be a box-walker, the horse will then only be worth €4,000.” He says this is where the HorsePay warranty comes in.

“The purchaser can put the money on our platform, get their horse home, check that the horse doesn’t have any undisclosed vices; if the horse does then the purchaser has come back through our website,” the website founder continued.

“Vices in horses, particularly in thoroughbreds, is common but as long as the new owner is told about the vice everything is okay.

“It’s when the new owner isn’t told and they discover it a few days later that a problem arises.

“In some cases, the ability of the horse, performance-wise, might outweigh the impact of the vice and so, therefore, there isn’t a problem with the animal.” 

“The solution is the Escrow payment system and it is going very well. In fact, things are snowballing since we started the crowdfunding campaign in conjunction with Spark Crowdfunding. We are offering up 16.7% equity for €100,000.

“It offers people who are interested in startup companies the opportunity to invest and that in turns helps us to provide the best services that we can to our users."

 Mr O’Flynn, who brought his HorsePay to fruition while still in college said he is just moving the process of buying and selling online and making it more accessible for everyone involved in the industry.

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