Matthew Rooda of SwineTech

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Matthew Rooda, the co-founder, president, and CEO of SwineTech, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of SwineTech – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

SwineTech is an animal health company that leverages voice recognition and computer vision to assist in bringing automation and traceability to the pork industry. SwineTech’s product, SmartGuard, provides the automation necessary to more successfully prevent the crushing and starvation of piglets, track and facilitate obstetrical assistance, and record important biometric and production information. The company was founded by me, Abraham Espinoza, and John Rourke. In college, I helped manage a sow farm in Iowa and identified many areas of opportunities for reduced piglet mortalities within the industry. I then teamed up with Abraham and John to develop prototypes for a device that could autonomously save piglets in danger, track sow health, as well as alert as to which mothers need obstetrical assistance. The team went through the Iowa Startup Accelerator in 2015 and we have not slowed down since.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

I would say that our greatest hurdle has been running commercial trials in a way that delivers accurate results. These facilities are not always designed or staffed for research purposes, so success and failure can be muddied by varying processes. We have needed to learn what it takes to run a research facility in order to assist commercial locations in running an assessment.

What does the future hold for SwineTech?

SwineTech is focused on providing caregivers, managers, and veterinarians with the information necessary to raise pigs to the best of their ability. We are currently working on a future release of our model that includes a camera. This will allow us to track many processes and behaviors within a pen and alert caregivers when assistance is needed.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Cedar Rapids?

The local startup scene in Cedar Rapids is highly collaborative and eager to volunteer. Eric Engelmann has done an excellent job in bringing this community together and in providing an ecosystem where companies genuinely want to help one another. I think that we all know we have each other’s backs no matter what.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Take the time to thoroughly understand what you are getting yourself into. Being an entrepreneur can be extremely rewarding and life changing. It will probably be the hardest thing you ever do. Make sure that you are committed 100% and be certain that your co-founders are as well. It will be a long journey and it’s not fair to your customers, investors, employees, nor your close circle of friends and family if you are not all in! Once you are certain that you are all-in, get connected to as many people as possible. Be patient and listen – work to find the mentors that will guide you along your entrepreneurial journey.

 

For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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