Performance Livestock Analytics Transitions to Zoetis
Zoetis, one of the nation’s top animal health companies, announced in April it had acquired the Ames-based startup Performance Livestock Analytics.
Iowa Ag Roots Spur Innovation
The acquisition reflects a success story for a young company with deep roots in Iowa and Iowa State University. Performance Livestock Analytics was founded in 2015 by Osage, Iowa, natives Dane Kuper, an Iowa State University alum (’08 ag studies), and Dustin Balsley, who graduated from Luther College.
Growing up, Kuper learned about some of the challenges faced by livestock producers through involvement with a family hog operation and raising cattle on a neighbor’s farm. After college, he sold crop insurance in southeast Iowa. Then, he had a chance to head to California where he worked for several high-growth businesses based on data analytics, including the Climate Corporation.
“But my roots were in the Midwest and in agriculture,” Kuper says. “It wasn’t long until I started thinking about putting what I was learning into delivering similar types of precision services to help livestock producers.”
Kuper recruited Balsley, and the two started Performance Livestock Analytics in their hometown to offer cloud-based data management to beef producers. Their main products, Performance Beef and Cattle Krush, provide automated on-farm data collection and analytics to help feedlot managers make better-informed decisions on financials, nutrition and animal health.
In 2016, Kuper and Balsley relocated their corporate headquarters to Ames and raised money from private investors, including the Ag Startup Engine, created by the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University to support budding innovators.
Less than five years later, about 20 percent of all cattle fed in the U.S. reportedly use the company’s software — and the company has grown from two to 43 employees.
“We really appreciate the Ag Startup Engine,” Kuper says. “They were the first group that invested in us, which allowed us to take our early steps to grow. For many young businesses, accessing capital is the biggest challenge. Now, we expect to be able to help others by becoming investors ourselves.”
“We congratulate Dane and Dustin on the success of Performance Livestock Analytics that reflects the value of their products to livestock producers,” says Kevin Kimle (’91 MS economics), director of the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “We are so pleased to have been able to support their early progress and then watch them build a fantastic business.”
“People ask ‘what are you going to do now?’ Kuper says. “I’ll still be working with Performance Livestock Analytics, transitioning to a new role as global platform strategy leader at Zoetis.”
Performance Livestock Analytics will continue operations at the Iowa State University Research Park and retain its current employees, according to Balsley, who has served as chief operating officer.
“This location continues to provide a platform for continued growth of our business and the support we need to scale up in the agricultural technology space,” he says. “It also has allowed us to engage interns from Iowa State more effectively as well as attract full-time employees as we have grown so far.”
“Both our mission-focused culture and vision align well with Zoetis,” Kuper says. “Now as part of Zoetis, we will be even better positioned to provide practical technology solutions to improve livestock health and sustainability for our customers,”
When asked if he has any words of wisdom for young, budding entrepreneurs, Kuper says, “The biggest barrier to taking a chance are your own mental attitudes. Turning a vision into reality and getting a new company off the ground can seem overwhelming. My biggest piece of advice is to make the commitment to get started and then, take things step by step.”
Editor’s note: Read more about Performance Livestock Analytics in the Spring 2017 edition of STORIES Magazine.
Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 65 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines, vaccines and diagnostic products, which are complemented by biodevices, genetic tests and precision livestock farming. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2019, the company generated annual revenue of $6.3 billion with approximately 10,600 employees. More at www.zoetis.com.
Performance Livestock Analytics aims to provide innovative solutions to connect the livestock industry and empower data-driven decisions through every step of the supply chain.
The company was founded to provide a digital platform for the livestock industry. Using practical insights from livestock producers, technical expertise of data engineers and their own livestock and Silicon Valley experience, the company’s founders created the beef industry’s first cloud-based platform.
The Ag Startup Engine at the Iowa State University Research Park is an investment fund and mentoring program that identifies and funds innovative agricultural technology startups, providing funding, mentorship and support to agricultural entrepreneurs.
Established in 2005, the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University offers courses and experiences to aspiring entrepreneurs and works to contribute to a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.