53 Degrees North interviewed Marlies de Kock and Pieter Vogels, co-founders of mOOvement, a corporate venture of the Dutch bank Rabobank, in a café in Utrecht.
Track & Trace of beef cows over long distances? Who thought that tracking the location of cows would become a business one day? Marlies de Kock and Pieter Vogels started a company, together with Rabobank, that does exactly this.
MOOOO ‘vement – explain us what you do…
“In Australia, there are farms of the size of 500,000 football fields. Over that big an area cattle often escape, and keeping track of them is costly and time consuming”, Marlies explains.
Traditionally farmers use helicopters (extremely expensive) to track these cows over the vast terrain. With GPS technology, you only have to use this helicopter when a cow “jumps over the fence”, as Pieter literally said. MOOvement offers farmers the opportunity to track and trace their cows over a very large distance. Every 30min the position of the cow is transferred to the main station. The farmers receive a notification on an app coming from the wearable IoT device when the cow is out-of-bounds. Once the farmer is notified he can locate the cow with the app and bring it back to its paddock or origin. “This will significantly decrease the operational costs of running a farm and should decrease the cow losses that a farmer sustains throughout the year”.
We are a software not a hardware company
Although much of the business is centered around the wearable device (a tag), “the hardware is only the enabler; we are primarily a software and analytics company that gathers and uses the data captured”, Marlies explains. Like many Internet-of-Things companies, algorithms, analytics and data are the most important factors of the company.
How did this company come about?
The company was born out of the idea to make livestock farms in Kenya financially viable, by tagging cows with a GPS tracking chip. This would make it possible to offer microloans to small but promising, which also aligns well with Rabobank’s strategy as it is one of their tasks to contribute to feeding the world on a more sustainable basis.
Marlies and her team won with this idea Rabobank’s internal acceleration program in 2017, called the Moonshot program. After that, the initial idea developed further with guidance and mentoring from the Rabobank partners. “One of the insights during the process was that we should develop an idea that is less risky and more applicable internationally”. This is how mOOvement discovered the Australian market. Without yet being fully rolled out, the company has its first 20 customers, operating and testing in Australia, where the market size is estimated to be around 25 million cows to be tracked and traced. Further expansion to come!
A corporate Venture Capital – what does this mean for entrepreneurship?
MOOvement is 100% owned by Rabobank. “Working in a corporate venture has its pros and cons”, as Pieter and Marlies tell us. In a nutshell, the advantage is a fixed salary, a well-established network, easier access to funding and coaching. And the freedom to make our idea become reality. The complexity on the other hand is to manage all different stakeholders and the blurred line between being an employee and being an entrepreneur which can be challenging at times. The biggest struggle is to bring everyone’s ideas on the same line.”
And finally, our two wacky questions…
…If mOOvement was an animal what would it be? “a beef cow, of course!”
…And if you can hire anyone in the world for mOOvement who would it be? “Without any particular name, someone who understands the problem well and has the deepest pockets…”