Backed by $23 million of fresh capital: Craig Piggott, Founder of Halter

Today we spotlight a founder who leverages software beyond the screen to transform an industry. As always, each Ubiquity founder has their own nerdy background (we define nerdiness as having a deep obsession) that led to founding their startup. Meet Craig Piggott, CEO of Halter, a smart hardware-powered solution for dairy farmers to move and manage their cows from a mobile app. This morning, Halter just announced its new $23 million Series B financing led by Blackbird Ventures. Ubiquity Ventures first backed Craig and his company Halter in their 2018 seed round of financing.

So what does Halter do exactly?

Halter uses AI to understand & train dairy cows. We have a solar-powered collar and mobile app to enable remote shifting of the herd, virtual fencing, heat detection and more. We sometimes call these “cowgorithms”.

What is the story behind how you started your company?

A wonderful blend of engineering, farming & rockets was the catalyst for Halter. I spent my younger years outside in all weather working the 100-hour weeks that farming demands from you; I knew the job inside out and all the problems that came with it. I never once dreamed I’d be running a tech company, I didn’t know what they even were.

I went to engineering school because I loved knowing how things worked and my parents said it was pretty much like being a mechanic (my first career goal), but that I’d probably be less bored. They were definitely right; I loved everything about engineering.

The most exciting engineering project in New Zealand at the time was Rocket Lab. I was fortunate enough to land a job and after a few months, everything started to click. I learnt what high growth, high performing companies looked like and realized I had the perfect opportunity to start Halter. Peter Beck — the Founder/CEO of Rocket Lab and my boss at the time — got behind the idea from the start, and Halter was born. ( Editor’s note: Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck is now on the board of Halter.)

When did you first get into the technical areas that define Halter? What drew you to them?

Halter is a very broad company. From researching cow behaviour and AI/ML to Hardware/Production and Software & Field support. I find every part of the technical stack interesting and the blend of engineering school plus growing up on a farm really enabled me to understand all the different technical areas required. How we could push the limits of each of those technical areas to engineer a single elegant solution is the breakthrough behind Halter. Ultimately this is a form of “systems engineering”, something I am massively passionate about and have been since before I even knew it had a name.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say the huge market also excites me. Dairy farming plays a critical role in food production and farmers have been in need of solutions for a long time.

We think of nerds as people who are obsessed with something (see our blog post about nerdiness). What are you nerdy about or obsessed with?

Problem-solving. I get a huge kick out of this both in a work sense and a personal sense. In particular, problem-solving that requires hard trade-offs. This draws me to the deepest technical problems but also feeds my love for product management. Designing/engineering an elegant solution to a complex problem is pure rock and roll for me. I love to apply this to everything I do, hiring, culture, etc. At the end of the day, trying to convince a world-class engineer to join your startup is just another problem that you need to engineer a solution for.

Personally — I love kitesurfing, building things with my hands, sport, and beating everyone on the team at table tennis.

What’s your advice to budding technical founders who haven’t yet jumped off to launch their new company?

No one has all the answers & there is no ‘good’ time to start a company. If you’re willing to put the work in, then just do it.

Are you a founder in the smart hardware or machine learning sector? Let’s talk! Leave a comment or get in touch with Ubiquity Ventures.

Ubiquity Ventures — led by Sunil Nagaraj — is a seed-stage venture capital firm managing close to $100 million with a focus on startups transforming real-world physical problems into problems solved with “software beyond the screen”. Ubiquity’s portfolio includes B2B technology companies that utilize smart hardware or machine learning to solve business problems outside the reach of computers and smartphones.

Originally published at https://ubiquityvc.substack.com.

Ubiquity Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital firm focused on “software beyond the screen” — turning real world physical problems into software problems.