'We're looking at taking Herdwatch to a global level'
Me and My Job
'I took my first job within the agri-sector when I joined Farm Relief Services (FRS) in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, in 2005.
"I spent the next few years building its IT infrastructure and applications to support their customers, most of whom were farmers.
"I got to know the agricultural sector and five years ago I realised there was an issue at farm level with paperwork.
"Farmers had to deal with an awful lot of paper-based compliance administration, which was a burden, so I put my thinking hat on.
"I created an App to allow farmers register calves 'as it happens' and record remedies for Bord Bia compliance, through their smartphone, in seconds, from the farm. When I suggested the project, FRS backed it and the rest is history.
"We have a team of 10 people working just on Herdwatch, so we ourselves are providing opportunities to people in the agtech industry.
"Agtech is definitely a growing subsection of the agricultural sector and something young people should target. It's anything that enables farmers to do more with less by using technology.
"The need for new efficiencies is driving farmers and the agricultural sector to look at technology for help. It's a big sector.
"When we started Herdwatch there was no such thing as agtech. It may have been somewhere on the internet, but no one was aware of it in Ireland. It's very much a buzz word now and we'd like to think we, in Ireland, are at the forefront of that.
"We worked with farmers to develop the app and the early feedback was phenomenal.
"Farmers are business people and if you put something in front of them that will create value for money, free them up to do something else, save them money or make them more money, it's a no brainer. Over 6,000 farms now use the app.
"One of the things I didn't appreciate back then is that when you get into software, particularly a subscription-based service, it's never finished. You can't say 'we have a great app and we're set for the next year'. There is constant reinvention and innovation.
"We're looking at taking Herdwatch to the global market next. There are millions of farmers in the world who have very similar challenges to Irish farmers and our aim is to target that market.
"I am originally from France and moved to Galway in 1986 as an Erasmus student exchange. I have an International Business Studies Diploma from the University of Lyon (France) and a Tourism and Marketing Diploma from Galway (GMIT), however my 20 years' IT experience is mostly self-taught, with some formal training in scripting languages and web technologies.
"I was first exposed to computers in my first job in a call centre for Galway-based US multinational APC.
"I joined its IT team and loved coming up with IT or business solutions and implementing them. I later moved to Roscrea with my wife Antoinette who is from there.
"I never thought I would be working where I am. That is a lesson for young people and a heads-up for people like me.
"I really didn't know what I wanted to do. It's amazing what you end up doing and loving.
"If you love something you have a better chance of being good at it, and if you're passionate about it, it doesn't feel like a job."
For Stories Like This and More
Download the Free Farming Independent App