Connolly, who recently left Irish agtech business Alltech where he was head of innovation and worked for over 25 years, has often been referred to as the fourth founder of Cainthus. He was, in fact, the company’s fourth investor after its three co-founders — Hunt,Ross Hunt and Robin Johnston — chairman of the board for some time, and a core advisor from the start.
“This was a very big decision for me to make, and I needed to make it now as Cainthus is at an inflection point in the development of its business,” Connolly told AgFunderNews. “And I really feel that this company is one out of a very small handful of agritech startups that could truly reach a $1 billion valuation.”
Cainthus uses computer vision technology to monitor dairy cows, specifically to understand how much they’re eating and drinking and also to track their health. By installing around 20 cameras per barn, Cainthus’ technology identifies and memorizes individual cows by their unique features, such as their coat pattern, ear tag, and facial features. The company then aims to analyze some 864,000 data points per animal, per day to help dairy farmers “make proactive and predictive decisions that improve efficiencies, enhance animal wellbeing, reduce animal loss, and ultimately increase farm profitability,” according to a press release.
This is a “game-changer” for the dairy industry because dairy farmers usually don’t know there’s a problem with a cow until after it’s occurred, said Connolly. Using computer vision also limits the need for human intervention, setting it apart from other dairy technology startups that are capturing data by other means including wearable sensors, he added, although adding that computer vision adds its own set of challenges.
Connolly’s main task as he starts at the company will be to drive its commercial expansion, something that former CEO Hunt is particularly excited about.
“Aidan has brought new agriculture products to just about every market during his career, including some major markets for Alltech such as Brazil and France, which is quite something,” he told AgFunderNews. “We have a fantastic, natural working relationship already as we’ve been working closely together for years in his capacity as chairman and investor.”