That’s Farming spoke to Pierce Dargan, CEO of Equine MediRecord, about starting his own business, his highlights thus far, and aspirations for the future.
Pierce Dargan returned to the family farm in 2016, whilst completing a master’s in management at Trinity College Dublin, and that is when his ground-breaking business was born.
He quickly realised how labour-intensive and time-consuming it was to keep animal welfare and anti-doping compliance records up-to-date in line with regulations.
The Kildare native had an idea to simplify this process, but knew he would require support to bring his idea to fruition.
He joined forces with his school friend, Simon Hillary, who had just finished digitising various documents for the Irish Government, and Finlay Dargan, who had worked for KPMG’s global strategy team, to launch Equine MediRecord.
The Equine MediRecord team began to attempt to have the first-ever digital health record for horses approved by any global equine regulator, which they did in 2018.
The ground-breaking company is based on the Curragh in Kildare, the Irish horse’s home, and has been supported by the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Kildare and will move premises to the new Irish Equine Innovation Centre shortly.
“We provide the first software platform in the world that has the sole purpose of tracking the health of horses and ensuring the compliance of horse carers to animal welfare and anti-doping regulations and protocols in the equine industry, promoting horse welfare,” Pierce told That’s Farming.
The company aims to digitise and automate compliance to animal welfare and anti-doping regulations and protocols in the global equine industry, promoting horse welfare.
Currently, Equine MediRecord (EMR) have ten employees, including an executive, founding team, development team, and regional representatives in Europe, North America, and Asia.
The cost of the services Equine MediRecord provide depends on what features a user opts for. Furthermore, its costs vary from $1 – $5 per horse per month.
“It is more than an app. Our platform does have an app but also has a fully web-based platform. This includes the likes of full regulations for certain countries where we operate, approved drug and supplement lists of what can be given to horses, alerts if there are regulatory changes in that region.”
Pierce outlined that their target market is 60 million horses worldwide.
“We have limited resources, so we have focused on what are deemed to be high health horses, which would be subject to the most inspections, so racehorses and high-level equestrian horses.
“We have all different types of customers from your professional trainers to your pony and donkey owners. Every horse’s health is important to monitor to ensure they receive the best possible care.”
Pierce believes the benefits are enormous and are not limited to saving time. Breeders Cup, World Champion 2020 winning trainer, UK-based James Fanshawe, said that the system reduced the amount of paperwork that he needed to complete by over 50%.
They have had over 1,000 inspections on their customers across Ireland, UK, France and the United States with a 100% compliance rate to animal welfare and anti-doping regulations, which Pierce feels shows “the massive benefit of using the system over paper regulatory documents”.
“We aim to digitise and automate compliance with animal welfare and anti-doping regulations and protocols in the global equine industry, proudly promoting horse welfare.”
“We always say you would not treat a human being without their full medical history, but unfortunately, that happens with horses all the time.”
“The vast majority of horse health records, the research we conducted looking at the Irish market would suggest up to 98% of horse health records, are still on paper.”
“This means that they are hard to review when treating a horse and can become easily lost, damaged or illegible.”
Equine MediRecord has won many awards, including the Best Startup in Kildare 2019.
The company also own Irish Midlands regional final to represent the region as one of the five national finalists in the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Competition in 2019.
Furthermore, they claimed the Best Farm Software title in the Innovation Arena Awards 2020 at the National Ploughing Championships. The company is currently a finalist in the SFA Awards for Ireland’s Exporter of the Year 2021.
The CEO highlighted there have been many highlights for the thriving business thus far.
One stand-out accomplishment is securing a contract to build a system for the Breeders, Cup World Championships held in Keeneland, Kentucky, last year.
“Receiving their endorsement after, for our work is something that we will always be very proud of. Partnering with our local racetrack, the Curragh Racecourse, last year during the pandemic and being able to support them by sponsoring some races on their big classic events.”
“We have Equine MediRecord races on both the Irish Guineas and Irish Derby festivals. The Dargan family have been based on the Curragh for generations. Being able to give back at a very difficult time was again something we were honoured and proud to do.”
Dargan revealed Equine MediRecord has “huge goals” in the next five years.
“We want to have as many of those 60 million horses on our system as possible. We aim to help promote their best possible care to those horses while helping our customers stay compliant with rules and regulations.”
“Besides, we hope to launch in many new countries soon when hopefully Covid-19 is behind us. Like many, we will have to wait and see and keep doing all we can in the meantime.” Pierce concluded.