How did Smart Foal get started?
Well it all started years ago when my mum was foaling down her mares. She would sit up at night until she was too tired to continue and then the mares were on their own. After loosing a few foals she decided it was time for a change.
She looked into the current foaling alarms available and couldn’t justify the price. So she asked me to build her one. “No problem” I said… I built it – and it worked, kinda. Somehow the base unit with the alarm in it created a feedback loop with the float (which was being used to provide shade for the mares) and the alarm wouldn’t stop going off. So mum got annoyed and turned it off.
And that was the end of that.
Flash forward a few years and mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. That was the motivation I needed to actually do it right.
But what is right? Is another screeching box the way forward? Should I try to do something different?
While developing a very early prototype I had this “great” idea. Since I was powering the box off my computer – why not allow data to be displayed on the screen, as well as provide the traditional alarm? The user just needs a computer and to install some software.
I was so excited. I thought I had the reinvented the wheel.
I called mum and told her all about this great new idea.
Her response: “NO!”
“No computers! We are just simple, normal, technology challenged people. ”
A lot of business advisers will tell you that getting an opinion on a business idea from a family member is great, but take it with a grain of salt. They want to support you and encourage you, so they might not be as honest as they should.
I didn’t get any of that 🤷😂🤣
So what now? Computers/programs/cables/updating software are all off the table.
Without a clear way forward, I just focused on collecting data.
While gathering data I had a real time display on my computer so I could match raw data to actual mare movements. After several hours I was able to tell what the mare was doing at any point in time. It was very handy.
While watching TV with my laptop beside me, my mum would chirp: “What’s she doing now?”.
“OOh.” “What’s she doing nooow?”.
“Still eating, Mum”.
“Just standing there, dozing”.
This went on all night until mum finally said “Oh, you know, even that’s really handy. Can you put that on my computer?”.
The brutally honest feedback I received initially, resulted in the creation of a web app – rather than installing software locally. This means all maintenance and compatibility is taken care of by us, not the user. It also means that all the data and alarms are available anywhere in the world! A very lucky side effect.
And we couldn’t imagine it any other way.
May the crazy eyes of a thousand mares not deter you from your path.