Ag entrepreneur hopes to get the world by the tail

Published: Friday, August 26, 2016 By: Sarah Terry-Cobo Source: The Journal Record

Sean Akadiri is searching for 1,500 cow hair samples and $2.5 million to scale up his business. The Agric-Bioformatics president and CEO needs DNA to scale up his genetic data management company from a beta-testing phase.

I2E President and CEO Scott Meacham said it’s always an obstacle to raise money.

“You have to get people to believe in your idea to get them to write a check, and you’re competing with other (entrepreneurs) with compelling ideas,” he said.

The AgBoost product takes the guesswork out of genetic testing for cattle ranchers, Akadiri said. He’s using the same DNA markers producers have used for years, but providing the genetic information in a visual format. The web-based application can show how a cow performs for traits including birth weight, docility, milk production and tenderness. It can also show the health or productivity of the entire herd.

Producers pull a few hairs from the cow’s tail, place it in a prepaid envelope, and a Lincoln, Nebraska-based lab processes the sample in two to three weeks.

The cloud-based information will allow cattle ranchers around the world to compare their own cattle against others. The app also allows producers along the chain to add more information about the cow as it grows and as it’s sold from a cow-calf operation, to a stocker, to a feedlot and eventually to the butcher.

“We’re not genetic testing, what we’re doing is managing big data,” Akadiri said.

Akadiri said eventually a restaurant diner could scan a code on a menu, which would connect to his database and show the cow’s entire life cycle. There’s growing consumer demand for more information about how animals were raised and if antibiotics were used, he said.

“The way food security is evolving, there will be value in the future to have records for each animal,” he said.

He has developed a demo, but now he needs real data to make the beta-version work. He’s seeking cattle producers who can provide 1,500 tail-hair samples. Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Michael Kelsey said he’s helping Akadiri recruit potential participants. Kelsey alerted his members via email last week about Akadiri’s search for volunteers.

In general, the cattlemen’s association members are interested in doing a better job of producing food. Kelsey said he hopes Akadiri is successful, and producers could benefit from the AgBoost product.

“This type of instrument will help producers understand the genetic capacities for their cattle and find their target market,” Kelsey said. “With more information, you can do a better job at raising steaks.”

The service will be free in the beta-testing phase for volunteers. Eventually, producers will pay a monthly subscription fee for AgBoost.

Akadiri is also searching

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