Cows are generally not top of mind among those who call the animal pen, South of Market, San Francisco, home. But BovControl, a Brazilian startup building data analytics tools to support livestock operations, is working to close the gap between technologists and ranchers. Host of the Internet of Cows hackathon, in partnership with Google Launchpad and The Silicon Valley Forum, the startup put groups to work brainstorming solutions for monitoring herds, exporting goods and securing loans.
This is the fourth time that the 17 person BovControl team has hosted this hackathon. The company’s mission is to enhance food production. It’s core product, a mobile and web app which aggregates data from bovine ear rings, chips and smart scales and spits out digestible visualizations, contributes to that broader vision. But community events enable BovControl to address other production inefficiencies without the need for entirely new products.
Over the course of two days, four teams prepared presentations highlighting solutions to known problems facing ranchers. One team, humorously named Cowculator, spent its time devising a solution to assist small-scale ranchers with securing inventory financing. By highlighting the assets a rancher already has, taking into account metrics like sales and inventory, the team hopes to democratize the loan application process.
Another team, GlobalFarmers, designed a web app to help ranchers raising organic and sustainable beef find exporters interested in their specialty products. The group hypothesized that it could charge exporters a listing fee for their services in facilitating the transaction and offer a paid premium tier.
The final two teams, HerdWatch and Cows at Risk, help ranchers look after their precious cattle. The former, HerdWatch, is a tracking and notification solution for lost cows. Cows at Risk is a health monitoring app offering insights into temperature, heart-rate and location.
On its own, Internet of Cows doesn’t move the needle on world hunger, but Hackathons get people talking and bring together likeminded communities. In a Valley where people intentionally connect hairbrushes to the internet, it’s refreshing to see a startup using IoT to tackle a real problem in a fun way.