Technology Races Equine Industry into Future · Babson Thought & Action

The horse business – old – is rooted in tradition and also very complex from a logistical point of view. For hundreds of years, the horse industry relied on dying accounting systems, which often included paper files stored in the barn. As a result, the connection was not always smooth.

“For barns that go to competitions, you move a large animal from one place to another. But you also move grooms, veterinarians, blacksmiths, managers, equipment, ”says Nicole Lakin of MBA’17. “In addition to everything, there are different levels of activity of horses, and each of them is quite isolated. There are horses for kids who want to learn basic skills, and there are horses that compete in the Olympics and on international tracks with multiple levels in between. It creates a unique challenge. “

To cope with this challenge, two graduates of Babson – Lakin and Nick Bourdain ’20 – hope to boost their business in the horse market by $ 102 billion.

After graduating from school in 2017, Lakin launched BarnManager, a web-based software for horse care and barn management for horse owners to keep track of their animals ’schedules, keep medical records, create monthly invoices, manage their barn calendar and improve overall. communication between stakeholders.

Four years later, Bourdon founded Artemis Horse Match, an electronic platform that helps riders find horses for sale. Thanks to their own horse selection algorithm, riders submit criteria to a huge database that produces emails about horse matches. “Typically, finding a‘ horse for sale ’can take about six months,” Bourdon says. “With Artemis, I can do it in five minutes.” The software also continues to provide matches with a current maximum rate of 50,000 emails per day.

Admittedly, software in the old world of horses can be met with skepticism. But Lakin and Bourdon know and support each other, recognizing that each has a common goal – to try to help modernize the horse industry.

Meeting through Babson

Lakin and Bourdon came to the industry in different ways. Lakin grew up riding and called himself a “rat.” Bourdon grew up in Boca Raton, Florida, near one of the country’s major equestrian centers, which gave him a deep appreciation for the animal. “I became acquainted with the industry five years ago through my polo friends, hunters and horsemen. My colleagues and I studied the industry and understood, ”he says. “Then I worked on solving one of the bottlenecks in the industry – an accurate and efficient search for a horse.”

Nicole Lakin MBA’17 with her horse Wannabe and dog Monkey.

Lakin and Bourdon were in Babson at different times and in different programs, but in 2020 they connected through the Arthur M. Blanc Center for Entrepreneurship. The horse industry is “somewhat closed,” Lakin says, “so there’s a chance we’d never get in touch if it weren’t for Babson.”

The couple soon realized that thanks to their additional strengths they could help support each other in their innovation efforts and begin to transform the horse industry. The duo collaborates in business and product development. “As we move quickly forward in deploying new products, it was helpful to call each other for advice and conduct a brainstorming session on a random basis,” Bourdon says. “It was very nice to rely on someone you trust and who can also share our strengths with each other.”

Doing business in the horse industry faces a certain set of challenges. Using horse management software is helpful, provided people are open to it. “My blacksmith,” a hoof care specialist, “just got rid of his folding phone last summer,” Lakin said. “I know vets who will still give you a handwritten invoice. But people in this field are ready to work with you if you can prove to them that you can speak their language. ”

Both companies do this by staffing customer support, “so that people always feel that they are talking to people,” says Lakin.

Turn during a pandemic

Of course, COVID-19 posed challenges, as in any industry. Although both businesses had to adapt to rapid market changes and turn around several times, they survived the pandemic and are doing well, Lakin says.

photo by Nick Bourdain '20
Nick Bourdon ’20

As a result of the blockades, the number of people using Artemis Horse Match has actually increased. “We see professional racers, Olympians and coaches using Artemis,” Bourdon says. “Because the blockades have led to the closure of many equestrian shows, riders and trainers have realized that they can no longer count on equestrian shows to showcase their sales horses.” This helped Artemis quickly take advantage of new market behavior and scale.

Since BarnManager was on the market three years before the pandemic, Lakin adds, “we were able to provide quick and easy solutions to changes in barn operation that occurred very suddenly at the beginning of COVID, and as a result last year we grew 78%.”

Bourdon continues to scale Artemis Horse Match to suit all breeds and disciplines and secure a secure strategic partnership, and now Lakin is developing BarnManager Pro, which she says will “introduce industry-based billing and payment processing tools, helping barns become more digital than digital. “at any time when face-to-face contact should be kept to a minimum.”

However, not all aspects of horse care can be controlled with a computer. “You can never refuse a person to clean a horse, feel that the horse’s feet are swollen or hot, being able to listen to the signals that the horse gives you,” says Lakin. “It’s something that neither a computer, nor a formula, nor an algorithm will ever be able to replace.”

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