XI Startup Barn Owl Enhances Rancher Productivity
With less than three weeks until the 2019 XI Accelerator Demo Day, we’re checking with in one of our 2018 startup alums, Barn Owl.
For founder Josh Phifer, Barn Owl is personal. He’s using his experience growing up on ranches to help rural businesses be more productive and secure. Partner Greg Nallie provides engineering and customer support.
Barn Owl solves remote monitoring issues with cellular-connected surveillance cameras and, of course, customer support built on decades of experience. Cameras take photos or videos on motion-detection, at scheduled times or on-demand, and transmits them immediately using Barn Owl’s cellular data connection.
Here’s what Josh had to share when we recently caught up with him.
Tell us about the connection between you and Barn Owl.
Many of my earliest childhood memories consist of traveling around our Wyoming and Nebraska ranches checking on things: water tanks, windmills, cattle, feed troughs and fences. By the age of 10, I was frequently making the rounds by myself, usually on a horse, so my parents could do the ranch tasks requiring adult strength and experience.
Monitoring remote assets and resources takes a huge amount of time and labor and is a big strain on ranch families and commercial operators who have very limited human resources.
How does your military service lend itself to Barn Owl?
In the U.S. Air Force, we leverage technology to be a force multiplier. During my time as a fighter pilot and tech adviser, I studied, analyzed and used a wide array of technology systems that help make human operators more efficient and effective. Surveillance and intelligence systems are absolutely critical to successful operations.
At Barn Owl, our goal is to provide affordable and easy-to-use surveillance systems to businesses with rural assets so they can be more efficient and secure.
Barn Owl is a security tool but it’s also more. How does it help with rancher productivity?
The value provided by remote surveillance depends on the specific use case. In farming, security is the biggest value because they frequently lose equipment, fuel, copper wire,and other assets to theft. In livestock ranching, the biggest benefit of remote surveillance is saving time and labor. Instead of using labor to spend hours checking on assets, they have real-time awareness of at their fingertips. This allows them to reduce monitoring labor and prioritize more important tasks.
What does the future hold for Barn Owl?
Our vision is to make surveillance affordable, accessible, and automated. We are developing a full-stack surveillance platform built on 4G and 5G cellular networks, with satellite connectivity coming in the near future. This enables us to provide surveillance services in areas without infrastructure.
Our upcoming system will include “smart cameras”, with on-camera artificial intelligence providing automated alerting and reporting. We are building out an API for our platform, allowing us to partner with organizations who want to integrate remote surveillance solutions into their own applications and services.
Outside of Barn Owl, what in the AI or disruptive tech world has you excited?
I’m excited about commercial space developments. Satellites are getting smaller and more capable. We expect to see affordable data connectivity at 4G speeds from low-earth satellites around 2024 or 2025. This will enable telecommunication and surveillance services literally anywhere in the world. On a personal level, I’m really excited about autonomous cars and how they will change our lives. I expect a
awkward transition period as our society adopts autonomous vehicles. Still, as autonomy becomes predominant, we will become safer and more efficient as individuals and as a society.
You were part of XI’s 2018 Accelerator Program. What appealed most to you and what still sticks with you today?
Ultimately, I believe your future success largely depends on your network. XI puts you on the fast-track to building an incredible network of advisors, investors, and friends, especially if you want to build a business in Colorado.
Freebie time. What’s one tip budding startups could start using today?
My number one tip is to focus on the problem. Solve a real problem in a big market with a solution that customers are happy to pay for. If you do that, everything else with starting a business becomes much, much easier.