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Founder Cohort Spotlight: Alexa Anthony

Startup founder Alexa Anthony, CEO of Magic AI, has a big vision and knows how to follow through on it. That’s why we chose her for Cohort 1 of our WTIA Founder Cohort Program, which guides early-stage entrepreneurs through their next milestones and connects them to similarly-staged peers. A former competitive equestrian, Anthony now devotes herself to improving the lives of horses – and the people who care for them – via the development of her digitized monitoring system.

Tell us about your company and the problem you’re trying to solve.

Magic AI is a computer vision / machine learning startup in the agtech sector. We use commodity cameras and AI to manage animals at scale(instead of wearables) by tracking the animals’ health, performance, and resources used over time. Animal management is the least digitized industry in the world, due in large part to the rugged and labor intensive environments. Magic AI has developed a system to monitor animals without complicated or expensive technology. No animal wearables required. With our solution, commodity cameras record continuous activity of these animals in fields, barns, homes, and in transport. Computer vision and machine learning extract the status and activities of these animals in real time. The system can quantify animal sleep and movement patterns, as well as eating and drinking activities. Users can review video footage and event playback, track progress over time, and receive alerts of emergencies or abnormal behavior. By 2050 nearly twice as many animals will be produced globally as are today. The animal management industry has serious obstacles ahead. The quantification of animal health, performance, and behavior has the potential to revolutionize every aspect of these industries.

What are some of your greatest wins as a company?

I am a former NCAA Division 1 athlete so for a long time, winning was a binary achievement. You either did or you didn’t. But over the last few years, building this company has taught me that “winning” can take many different forms. The most memorable to me was the first time I got our full MVP app into a customer’s hands. It was a moment that I had been waiting nearly an entire year for. We had worked so hard putting together the right product and now finally, I am able to add value to our customer’s daily lives. Isn’t that why we do startups? And in addition to that, our largest customer to date was so happy with the product that they renewed the contract for another year, more than doubling the number of stalls covered. Another great day!

What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced in growing your company?

One thing that I did not fully appreciate when I started this company was how challenging it would be to develop cutting edge technology for use in rugged environments. There is a reason why Agriculture is the least digitized industry in the world! Things get dirty! And the industry is not used to relying heavily on high-tech solutions for their daily operations.

Another obstacle would be convincing venture capitalists to invest in a new-to-VC market like equine. I grew up in the Equine industry, so I know how big the market and opportunity was in the US. But it has been more challenging that I anticipated getting VC’s without that same background to see that opportunity.

What’s one thing you know now that you wish you’d known when you started?

Lean Cuisine pizzas have two servings in each box.

On day 1, write down the core values you want your company to be based on. Company culture will evolve quickly, for better or worse, so get ahead of it and have that in mind from day one and bring people onto your team who share those values.

What’s next for your company?

For equine, continued expansion. We have new large clients in negotiation and several other upcoming developments that we are waiting to announce!

Other livestock will be in our road map once we have a strong foothold in equine.

What’s one thing you need help with right now?

Connecting with capital that understand the animal management market.  

What organizations have been most helpful for you at your current stage?

WTIA, obviously! Female Founders Alliance(FFA), and Techstars for organizing the startup weekends.

Are you hiring?  If so, what roles?

In the next few months we will be gearing up to hire additional developers.

  • UI/UX
  • Data Science
  • AWS DevOps

If interested, please contact us at info@magicai.io.

Author

  • Nick Ellingson

    Nick Ellingson started his career in software sales on the Eastside before joining the WTIA team. Now he finds new members for the WTIA community, listening to feedback about events and resources, and finding fun and creative ways to get more people involved with WTIA. In his personal time, he can be found playing video games, playing basketball, reading, writing, or spending time with friends. If the Chicago Bulls are playing, he's watching.

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