Coping with the growing challenges of the sector
Despite the increasing demands of the sector – even on an amateur level – horse riders, owners and stables are still using outdated, time-consuming methods to archive horses’ documentation, track performances, manage invoices and communicate between the different stakeholders.
“When travelling between competitions, riders need to carry their horses’ documentation and medical records on paper; if there’s an update on the horses’ condition, communication with the stables is done via phone calls or text messages,”states Kristof Goeminne. “That’s what we wanted to change.”
Connecting riders, owners and stables in one app
Equicty offers an integrated platform that facilitates communication between all stakeholders. The product includes two main features:
- An online software where stables can manage the daily activities of their staff, update horses’ medical records and evolution, archive footages of competitions, manage their invoices and stay easily connected with riders, owners and other stakeholders. It can be used in any device, such as laptops, mobiles or tablets.
- The stable board, a customized touch screen designed for the stables, with water, dust and low temperature resistance features. Working with the Equicty software, it allows staff to visualize and make changes in daily planning of the horse’s caring and training in real time.
Early development started in 2014 and the final product was ready to be commercialized in January 2016. In less than a year, over 30 stables across Europe acquired the program, with more than 3.000 horses registered, proving that there was a clear need in the sector. “When we first started developing the product there was nothing like it,”reveals Kristof Goeminne. “We are now learning about new products just starting to get developed, which shows that there is in fact a market for this type of solution.”
The first believers
Equicty was accepted in the imec.istart program in 2016. Together with the funding – “essential for start-ups, especially in an early stage” – the founders highlight the importance of the workshops and the coaching sessions.
“Joining imec.istart made us stronger as a business and more prepared to face investors and pitch our innovative solution,”states Kristof Goeminne.
Challenges and next steps
At an average rhythm of one new client per week, the founders are now working on setting up their sales channels – through agents and resellers – and consolidate their position in Europe. They’re also hoping to bring on board a Head of Inbound Sales in early 2017, the company’s first hire.
“Our main focus at the moment is Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – that’s where the equine industry is the strongest,” discloses Kristof. “On a longer term – once we’ve optimized our product and our business – we’ll definitely be looking at the United States and the Emirates.”
In order to achieve that – together with further product development – the start-up is now looking for new investment, preferably someone involved in the industry. “We don’t want just an investor; we want someone that understands and believes in our product’s potential,” states Kristof.
The founder ends with an advice for fellow entrepreneurs: “As a start-up it’s essential to be prudent and not rush into things. You need to establish concrete plans and goals for your business, take one step at a time. And above all, you need to make sure you have the right people by your side to help your company thrive.”
Company Name: Equicty
Founders: Bram Balcaen / Samir Brahimi / Kristof Goeminne
Number of employees (2016): 3
Imec support received: imec.istart