Kildare agri-tech utilising the cloud to help farmers improve health of animals

Inside Track: Terra NutriTECH CEO Padraig Hennessy on what makes his business special


Kildare-based agri-tech company, Terra NutriTECH, is harnessing the power of the cloud to make life easier for farmers and improve animal health.

What is special about your business?

We have developed a high-tech delivery system that helps farmers improve the health of their herds. We use the farm’s water piping system – designed by us – to accurately feed the cattle vital minerals – made by us – in their drinking water.

What sets your business apart in your sector?

Although we now manufacture minerals, we have invested heavily in technology and are using a combination of advanced ag-tech and automation to deliver our product. This means we can target exact deficiencies within herds to ensure we achieve class-leading results.

Our cloud-based system also reduces manual labour and waste on the farm. It eliminates the possibility of human error and, most importantly of all, it cuts costs for the farmer. It also makes life a lot easier as he or she can see all the relevant information on their phone.

You’re in business since 2012. What has been your biggest challenge in that period?

Getting farmers and the agricultural sector to buy into our system. What we are doing is highly disruptive within the minerals industry.

What have been your biggest successes?

Initially, it was seeing the opportunity for a new type of system to deliver water to cattle. Traditionally, farmers have used a fairly ad-hoc arrangement of plastic pipes. Then we had to build the system because nothing like it existed. Thirdly, it was spotting the opportunity to add value by manufacturing the minerals the cattle need and accurately feeding them to them in their drinking water.

We are also proud of the fact that most of our new business opportunities now come from client referrals and that we have begun exporting within the last few weeks. Winning the national enterprise awards and Google’s Adopt a Start-up [programme] in 2018 have also been highlights for the company.

What piece of advice would you give someone starting a business?

It’s a long, hard fight so be prepared for sleepless nights and sometimes stressful days. However, if you have a passion for what you are doing, it doesn’t seem like work. Overall I would say go for it. Be in control of your own destiny.

Who do you admire most in business and why?

David Walsh and Niall Kelly of Netwatch. The growth of their company over the last 10 years has been incredible. How they have scaled their business while deploying cutting-edge technology is admirable.

Do you have a business hero or heroine?

It’s easy to pick the usual high-profile people such as Richard Branson. But I really love the fact that 97 per cent of all businesses in Ireland are SMEs. It’s the garage owner down the road or the small factory in an industrial park that are the real drivers of the economy and they are not recognised enough.

What two things could the Government do to help SMEs in the current environment?

Entrepreneur tax relief needs to be increased from the €1 million mark to match the UK level. The fact that business owners are still being treated as second-class citizens in the current PAYE model is disgraceful and needs to be rectified.

In your experience are banks lending to SMEs?

We’ve had interaction with the two main players in the market recently. One was in no way interested in doing business, while the other could not have been more helpful. I would say shop around. Some banks want to do business.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?

Not believing people when they told us that designing our technology would take twice as long and cost three times as much as we thought.

What is the most frustrating part of running a small business?

You need to become an expert in everything, from finance to marketing to sales and IT because you need to know enough to be able to make informed decisions.

What makes it all worthwhile?

The excitement of the deal, working with my brother Tom to develop the business which has grown from nothing to employ 15 people, building something for the future and being my own boss. I love it and I don’t think I would like to do anything different.

What’s your business worth and would you sell it?

We all like to think our businesses are valuable. The cold reality is they are only worth what someone will pay. I think if you stay building something your customer wants then the value piece will take care of itself.