Producing opportunities for farmers

January 20th, 2017

Local entrepreneur is out to improve breeders’ online marketing

By Doug LeDuc | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

An entrepreneur with a pig breeding background is partnering with Northeast Indiana Innovation Center to improve online marketing for the industry’s breeding stock and genetic material.

The partnership began more than a year ago when he asked the center if his dissatisfaction with the industry’s available online marketing avenues might present a business opportunity.

“Brent Davis has worked with some of the top breeders in the county and had the advantage of growing up with some of the top notch breeders, and he learned a lot from them,” said Mike Fritsch, a NIIC entrepreneur in residence. “He came in and said, ‘I just know there’s a way that can be improved here, but I’m not an entrepreneur.’”

After looking into it, managers at the center were impressed enough with the concept that, with the collaboration of NIIC client Cirrus ABS, “we created the company for him,” Fritsch said.

“And the Innovation Center, through its for-profit subsidiary, is helping operate it for him,” he added.

Innovative Livestock Group’s first offering is website design and operation that uses search engine optimization techniques to help a breeder’s website attract more traffic by appearing higher and more frequently in the results generated by search engines.

Other businesses offer web hosting with unlimited text and picture updates, design help and breeder directory links. But, according to its own website, ILG’s product “makes sure people who are searching on Google to buy your breeding livestock or semen will actually find you.”

“We write articles and content for you on your website and update them often (to) help buyers find you. You may be an expert, but we help you look like one,” it said. “We know you don’t have time to mess with this stuff. You can either update your website yourself or we can do it for you. It’s easy.”

IGL’s website product draws on Davis’ breeding stock marketing expertise where ever it is needed and he will be very involved in the development of future company offerings. A strong point of the website product is it is very mobile friendly, and that is the future of website traffic growth.

The company launched officially in November at the National Swine Registry Fall Classic in Duncan, Okla., and Davis said in a statement some of the nation’s livestock industry leaders have signed on to its website product.

With additional commitments from industry leaders across the country, he said he believes the company will change the livestock industry.

Mike Paul, CEO for the National Swine Registry, said and have demonstrated breeders want to market their breeding stock and genetic material online, and that it can impact sales.

Online marketing has been especially helpful to “the smaller producer as an opportunity to get his information out into a larger arena for people to see,” Paul said.

The business opportunity afforded through application of the latest e-marketing techniques to what the industry already was doing online with breeding stock and genetic material sales persuaded Elevate Ventures to provide the business with a high potential startup grant of $25,000.

The grant was awarded “mainly because they’re hitting a market that’s being grossly under served in the online auctioning of livestock,” said Robert Clark, entrepreneur in residence at Elevate Ventures.

There is no similar platform “out there currently that’s serving specifically the swine or hog markets right now, and that’s what they’re going after initially,” he said.

In addition to the Elevate Ventures grant, ILG was seeded with an undisclosed amount of funding from Innovative Property Management Group, the Innovation Center’s for-profit subsidiary, in return for an equity stake.

“There are many phases that are to come that will enable them to sell online,” Fritsch said of future products ILG plans to develop for breeders.

“There are several places they can use to sell online, but most of them leave a lot to be desired. We’re going to fix those problems and make it easier for people to find what they want. Basically we’re providing and eBay for breeding livestock.”

Eventually the business may serve cattle as well as pig breeders, Fritsch said.