Herdwatch’s Fabien Peyaud: Our AIB Start-up Academy story

Herdwatch founder Fabien Peyaud pictured walking as part of the AIB Start-up Academy story.

IN farms across the country, Fabien Peyaud’s impact can be felt. The co-founder of herd management app, Herdwatch, the Roscrea Start-up has helped to streamline paperwork management and compliance for farmers nationwide.

No easy feat, Fabien says winning back hours in each farmer’s day makes the hard work and effort that has gone into developing the app worthwhile.

He explains: “The compliance burden on farmers is unreal now. When the animal is sick and requires treatment, they have to fill in paperwork and keep it for five years. Beforehand, they might have written this down on a piece of paper and then input it manually at night. But now as soon as they hit the save button, they are compliant.”He adds: “We’re saving up to four or five hours a week for farmers now and that’s very worthwhile.”

The winning Start-up in the AIB Start-up Academy with the Irish Times, Fabien works long hours as part of a small team in the business’ Tipperary base. Over two years in development, running the Start-up is a hands-on process.

“It’s typically a 15-hour-day. It’s a very busy environment, I could be doing ten to twelve things in one day,” Fabien reveals. “You are very mentally tired at the end of the day, but that’s the pace we need to keep. The lads here are always making calls and taking sales, then we test new features and log feedback.”

Part of the Academy line-up earlier this year, the business scooped the top award in the Academy’s final in March. A well-deserved victory, Fabien credits the programme with helping the team further develop their approach to business. He says: “It gave me a level of confidence. This was my brainchild and you have that fear (of failing). You believe in yourself, but sometimes you worry. So to get into the final was a huge seal of approval.

“It wasn’t a flash in the pan. It was a decision made by people who had looked at the project and interviewed me a number of times. It’s given Herdwatch a huge sense of confidence and courage to go on.”

With a roster of business and marketing experts delivering modules to the Start-ups in the Academy, he cites the marketing modules as particularly helpful to Herdwatch. “For us, the marketing and social media modules were really key. The more practical they were, the better. Mark Brennan, Head of Digital Marketing & Innovation at AIB, also did a fantastic session on social media strategy, which is still helping us today.”

For Start-ups considering applying to the Academy this year, Fabien urges: “The only advice I could give them is apply now and give it 100%. There is no other advice really. If they do that, provided they have a good concept, they should do well.

“Even if you don’t get into the Academy, you learn so much.” He adds: “It was so useful to be in that mix with other Start-ups. We were the only Start-up based outside of Dublin, so it was really helpful to share feedback and discuss common issues with other Start-ups and people in a similar position.”

With a background in technology and an interest in farming, Fabien first started to think about developing Herdwatch three years ago. Prompted to investigate the possibilities for a herd management app after learning of the burden paperwork places on farmers – he brought the idea for the product to his employers in FRS Network. A brave move, the decision to act on his research kick-started the development process. Fabien says: “I definitely put my neck out when I had to convince my CEO and ask him to back me with this idea.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t even know if it was going to work. I was lucky in that I didn’t have to leave my job. The original backer of Herdwatch is my employer. I’m employed by them but work full-time on Herdwatch. They’ve been very supportive. It’s the situation a lot of people would dream of. I didn’t have the pressure of leaving my job.”

With many farmers across Ireland now using the app – and an impressive 80% annual renewal rate for the app’s subscription – Fabien says there is huge potential for Herdwatch to help out farmers in countries around the globe.

“We’re keen to ensure that we have the best possible product we can produce before we expand. We think by January or February, we’ll be in the UK.

“We believe this has potential worldwide, there is no question about it. Managing cattle in Ireland is no different than managing cattle in France or Germany. It has massive international potential,” he explains.

Get more information on Herdwatch and FRS Network here.

Want the opportunity to learn how to grow your Start-up business in the company of like-minded entrepreneurs? Submit your application now for a chance to win a place in the next AIB Start-Up Academy.