Ranchlogs Makes it to Final Round at NYC Blackstone LaunchPad Demo Day


By Shannon Furniss

Running a ranch with vast landscapes and numerous livestock can be complicated, but University of Montana student Walker Milhoan has a technology that he thinks will make ranching more sustainable and profitable. And his business venture is promising enough that he was selected as a finalist at Blackstone LaunchPad’s recent Demo Day in New York City.

Milhoan’s business venture, Ranchlogs, was one of 20 selected to attend the event where students competed to win prizes ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 to be used to further their business development. Paul Gladen, UM’s Blackstone LaunchPad director, nominated Milhoan to attend the competition where he progressed to the final rounds with the top six. The LaunchPad, an experiential campus program designed to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career path, began on the UM campus in February 2014, and it has advised more than 100 ventures, including Ranchlogs. MSU also has the Blackstone LaunchPad program on its campus in Bozeman, and Pam Haxby-Cote is the program’s Montana regional director based in Butte.

Ranchlogs is an interactive, Web-based software platform that serves as a livestock inventory and range management tool that can be used to create custom ranch maps, track key performance indicators, and perform analysis within any ranching operation.

In the pitch video that Milhoan produced for Demo Day, he emphasizes that “healthy, sustainable rangelands are the backbone of a ranch’s profitability, and managing them takes grit, passion, and an astute mind.”

Software that could help ranchers track cattle and improve pasture conditions would provide ranchers with valuable information and allow them to make better decisions, said Milhoan. “It would improve their business for a more profitable bottom line.”

And according to UM’s Blackstone LaunchPad director, Milhoan’s business venture has great potential. The fact that he made it to the final rounds at the competition is “confirmation that we have ideas in Montana that have national and international relevance,” said Gladen. “Even though it’s an idea that sounds kind of Montana-centric, actually it isn’t because ranching is an activity that exists across the world. We have ideas here in Montana that can be world-class businesses.”

Learning Ranch Management

Milhoan points out that Ranchlogs is software “built by ranchers for ranchers.”  And he knows a bit about ranches. He spent his childhood visiting his grandfather’s ranch in Colorado, riding horses, working cattle, and jumping into piles of hay. From 2010-11, he attended Texas Christian University’s Ranch Management Program, which he jokingly calls the Harvard of ranching. One of his school projects involved building a ranch management plan on a working ranch. First, he had to learn all of the intricate functions of Excel spreadsheets and file management systems. Then he compiled and analyzed data about costs, marketing, health protocol, genetics, market outlets, and long-range business plans.

“It was amazingly beneficial for ranchers but extremely hard to put together,” Milhoan said. “Typical ranchers wouldn’t do this level of detail. It’s really time consuming and inefficient. It took four months to do it.”  It was then that he started thinking about a way to customize this process and make it easier.

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Source:  Montana High Tech Business Alliance

Posted by Jami Howell

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