The Seeds of Our Future: Moo-ving the Herd to the Cloud

Silicon Valley Forum is excited to announce that we’re a proud partner of the 4th edition of the Hackathon: Internet of Cows. Powered by BovControl in partnership with Google Launchpad, the hackathon will be the culminating activity of our “The Seeds of Our Future” AgTech Week. The Hackathon’s mission is to connect every cow on the planet to the cloud, improving data collection throughout the cattle production value chain, and thereby improving production and efficiency of the whole cattle industry.

In a new AgTech Blog Series – The Seeds of our Future – we’ve invited our program speakers to share their unique stories from their experience as international entrepreneurs: challenges they’ve faced, opportunities in AgTech innovations, and their grand vision of AgTech’s future. We’re kicking off the series with a post featuring Danilo Leao, CEO & Co-Founder of BovControl.


What are the main changes you see happening in your space that you are excited about?

The livestock valuechain is being educated to make better decisions based on information. Consolidated information comes from complex systems, but we need to push the boundaries in order to impose a new discipline of data-collection throughout the value-chain—a discipline that also considers ranchers’ day-to-day experience before smartphones.

The Internet of Things in the livestock industry is not about sensors or new technology. It’s about building a market around the results from these new data-collection disciplines, while improving the user experience and empowering engagement between the players of the value-chain.

The smartphone is quickly becoming the rancher’s external brain, supporting them with decision-making capabilities they can use to improve the yield. We are very excited about this new era: each new user can use special data-entry tools to manage their herd, lands and tasks—without spending tons of money on new, untested devices. Ranchers traditionally have a conservative approach, so they prefer validated methods before they’ll invest. BovControl is well positioned in that sense.


What role do you see BovControl take in the AgTech future?

We’ve started with a bottom-up approach, from the ranchers to the market, with explosive traction. It was important to get the attention of global corporations of this space, and educate them about this new direction of information management throughout the industry.

So now, in a top-down approach, through the traditional corporations (retailers, slaughterhouses, NGOs, and banks) we’ve been re-inventing the way companies get in touch with their source, in a way that is much more respectful and transparent. Using a cross-subsidy business model, they are now engaging their suppliers—ranchers that represent their source of raw-material (hygiene and beauty products, that comes from the animal, soap, leather, beef and dairy products)—to better understand their supply, pricing, and quality. This leads to improved retention of a very fluid type of suppliers—ranchers often supply one corporation today, but quickly switch to a new one tomorrow.


Which main differences do you see in AgTech practices when comparing your home country Brasil to the US?

I expected to see lots of differences when we established the incorporation of BovControl in the US in 2014. But a lot of that turned out to be unfounded bias—most of the ranchers around the world are already using technology: in high-quality genetics improvement, soil management, new types of grass for high-performance pastures, and more. Brazil and US are very efficient in terms of producing inexpensive food.

In the US, we see a pro-business mindset that is closer to the adoption of the new information management disciplines, using new types of data collection, smartphones, etc. In Brazil, the pressure for a profitable business is higher, with fewer subsidies; ranchers are always looking for new ways of improving their productivity driven by need.


What have been your main challenges so far in building your startup in the AgTech industry?

The main challenge is communicating my vision of the future with others. The technology evangelization life is made of ups-and-downs. Sometimes you see that they get it, and they support you – and that is rewarding, but most of the time it doesn’t work like that. It is about being crazy and talking about things others will certainly try to prove that we are wrong. Resilience is essential. When you see that thousands of ranchers are getting it, it is the future we’ve dreamed of coming true. That is enough. Pays the cost. Again, resilience is essential.


What are some of your key pieces of advice to those who will be participating at the AgTech Hackathon? 

The Internet of Cows is a place that we are happy to celebrate crazy ideas, the vision of new entrepreneurs interacting and pushing the traditional corporations forward. My advice is to arrive with “a box” of new ideas, hardware, a piece of software, design or even a spreadsheet, to change ranchers’ lives for better. It is a celebration of a movement—feeding the world that is hungry for both food and for effective collaboration. We believe it this hackathon will be a place where we can change reality with our hands, our brains, and especially with our hearts.


Join us at any of our activities during The Seeds of Our Future Week:

Author: Xi-Er Dang
Product Marketing Specialist

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