Rob Hannam has always been passionate about helping others solve their problems and improve their businesses and lives. This drive led him to become an entrepreneur, knowing he could make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. In 2020, Rob joined forces with Tim Nelson, a livestock researcher who had developed software to enhance biosecurity for farm and food companies. Working together, Rob and Tim launched Farm Health Guardian – a digital software solution that safeguards farms from animal diseases, boosts animal health, and simplifies security measures.
Farm Health Guardian’s vision is to protect livestock and poultry health globally. This means Rob, Tim and their team take a very hands-on approach to working with their clients to customize new technology solutions to make farm biosecurity work for everyone.
Since the company’s launch in 2020, several trends have surfaced to make Farm Health Guardian’s digital solutions even more necessary. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the world faced higher risks of export-stopping diseases, creating increased awareness of disease prevention and livestock protection. Additionally, increased demand for antibiotic-free meat production posed new health risks for livestock, making their services more crucial than ever! When livestock is raised without antibiotics, the stakes are higher for any disease or sickness. Farm Health Guardian’s solutions can help identify and prevent these risks through improved biosecurity programs with their farm and food company clients.
Of course, working in this industry has its challenges. Since Farm Health Guardian provides their services through an app, it can be difficult for people in rural areas to use since there is often poor Internet access and cell phone coverage. There are also many levels of readiness to accept and use new technology, and adopting new technology into a farming system or food supply chain can be complex. However, one of the biggest challenges that Farm Health Guardian had to overcome was the COVID-19 pandemic. “While we do have a digital technology that can be implemented over Zoom or on an online meeting, our customers are used to purchasing things from people, and so there’s a need for getting to the farm, meeting the customer at their location or seeing them at a tradeshow and building that trust and awareness, so not being able to travel and meet in person was a real barrier,” recalls Rob. Luckily, when restrictions were lifted, they were able to create relationships in person once again and had the support of Innovation Guelph (IG), who had helped them in the past and were able to help Farm Health Guardian to scale and learn even more!
The impact of IG’s Startup Program was transformative for Farm Health Guardian. With access to mentorship, they created a more structured sales process to identify and nurture prospective customers, analyzed potential new markets, and received valuable investment advice. Moreover, they learned how to structure distribution agreements for export markets and partnerships. Even with Rob’s previous experience selling products, he learned that selling the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model to corporate customers is much different. Rob says one of the most impactful parts of working with Innovation Guelph was exhibiting at their Ontario Innovation Expo tradeshow and the exposure and connections that it provided. “The Innovation Expo was great exposure for us locally with people in the industry, so that had a huge impact,” says Rob.
Farm Health Guardian is certainly headed for BIG things in the future. Recently, they merged with an American startup company called NoveTech that operates in the same space and, as a combined business, are set to conquer the US market while further expanding in Canada. Rob has learned a lot throughout his journey with Farm Health Guardian and is far from finished! His advice to fellow entrepreneurs is simple – figure out your product-market fit, spend time with your customers, and don’t be afraid to pivot, as something that might seem simple to the owner could have a huge impact on the end user. This customer-centric approach sets Farm Health Guardian on the path to a bright future. As Rob & Tim’s commitment to solving problems and making lives easier remains unwavering, exciting times await the innovative Farm Health Guardian team as they continue to revolutionize biosecurity and impact both the agricultural and food industries.
Learn more about Farm Health Guardian here: https://farmhealthguardian.com/