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Treildliacht : Life Sciences Start-Up

http://www.calfstick.com/

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We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Pádraig Mullally”, New Product Development at the Newcastle – UK based start-up “Treidliacht”

Below is the interview we conducted with him:

1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?

Treidliacht Ltd is a life sciences start-up based in Northern Ireland. Currently, Treidliacht Ltd are in the processing of launching its pioneer product Calfstick®. CalfStick® is a dehorning paste for calves and goats currently available with in the United Kingdom.

2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?

Treidliacht Ltd was formed in 2013 by Cahir King. Joined by Pádraig Mullally through the INTERREG funded Aspire Programme in 2014, CalfStick® is currently being launched in the UK.

3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?

Born out of the need for an alternative for hot iron dehorning for calves and goats, CalfStick® achieves just that. Currently working on a majority direct sales approach, CalfStick® is marketed primarily to the end user. This is what sets it apart from a number of competitors on the market. Our distribution channels include directly from us, through a number of veterinary clinics throughout Northern Ireland and we aim in the coming weeks to establish an online shop for direct sales.

4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?

Through the Aspire programme, Treidliacht Ltd acquired Pádraig Mullally as the New Product Development Associate in 2014. Pádraig Mullally is currently the project manager for CalfStick®. Cahir King overlooks CalfStick® as well as other projects.

5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make? 

Currently, the most commonly used method of dehorning calves is the use of a hot-iron dehorner (either gas or electric). Typically carried out when the calf is at 3-4 weeks old, this is a traumatic experience for both animal and the person carrying it out. In contrast, CalfStick® is ideally applied to a calf under a week old. A calf can sleep through the process if timed correctly. These two processes are in complete contrast to one another and, this is one of our main unique selling points.

6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?

We have achieved much interest coming up to the product launch with a number of clients field testing it with great success. Most of these clients have followed up with their first orders after a successful field test of the product.

7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?

Two products in particular are in direct competition with CalfStick®- Hornex and ExBud. These are dehorning pastes which are distributed throughout the UK and other markets. The unique formulation of CalfStick® sets it apart from other dehorning paste products on the market at the moment. This formulation has been reported to be more adhesive and absorptive than the competitors according to our clients.  

8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

In particular, the regulatory issues of distribution and manufacturing CalfStick as well as securing suppliers of raw materials due to the nature of CalfStick®’s ingredients. The regulatory issues were overcome by inquiring with our Invest Northern Ireland (government funded economic development agency) client. They advised us in this area strongly and researched the needs of packaging, manufacturing and distribution with
respect to regulation.

9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?

The necessity of the use of a caustic paste is one which both consumer and the general public are occasionally slow to understand. The use of a product of this nature; however, is a much more practical solution to dehorning calves on a modern farm.

10. Why are you going to succeed?

CalfStick® will succeed due to our awareness of the emerging customer base through online marketing and social media. We have a keen eye for who are our up and coming customers and how to target them in contrast to our competition.

11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?

The area of topical products is a broad one for both small and large animal markets. With products for hoof care, external parasite care and others (such as sheep dip), there is a broad potential for expansion into these areas. In addition, there is potential for expansion withing the small animal market with similar products.

12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?

As other caustic paste products are not marketed directly to the end user, we thought that if we developed a paste that was a unique formulation and marketed it in this way with a strong brand and a more personal approach that this would result in having a sustainable business model.

13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea? 

We have learned how to take advantage of funding opportunities within Northern Ireland and the UK in order to minimize the amount of capital costs. In addition, the workings of social media and the potential for open discussion on a global scale is one we were not privy to beforehand.

14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?

The main issue for us will be breaking into the Republic of Ireland market as the barriers to market are greater than that of the UK. With the abolition of milk quotas in ROI in June, this will increase the level of dairy calves produced going forward therefore it will be an even more profitable market for us to enter.

15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?

CalfStick® streamlines the dehorning process therefore giving the user more time to focus on other more important tasks on a busy farm. In addition, as it is a less invasive method than that of hot-iron dehorning, there is no setback for the calf involved.

16. How did customers / users find out about you?

Customers have been contacting us through social media (twitter and facebook) as well as through veterinary clinics that we supply. From visiting and following up these inquiries, we have got a number of referrals. In addition, through our attendance at a number of trade fairs and livestock marts recently and in the coming months we have spoken to a number of interested clients and secured sales in this way.

17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?

A number of veterinary clinics based in Northern Ireland are stocking CalfStick® at the moment. Our end users are dairy and beef farmers  which also buy directly from us. 

18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?

We are currently offering introductory deals to new customers of up to 20% off their first order which can be claimed by contacting us on social media or by phone. In addition, throughout the pre-launch phase we were supplying farmers with field test free trials. These clients have stayed with us since then have developed close relationships with them with respect to product feedback and future plans.

19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?

Many of our customers are familiar with the competitor paste products and they are in favour of the packaging and the formulation above the competition. In particular, a number of clients have stated “anything that makes life on a busy farm easier is fine by me!”

20. How are you going to scale?

For the future, the plan is to outsource our production to a trusted contract manufacturer within the island of Ireland. In addition, more focus will be given to distribute to wholesalers and veterinary clinics as opposed to direct sales in order to scale the business.

21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?

Currently, we only have one size of CalfStick®- 20ml syringe serving 20 calves. Customers of smaller herds than 20 calves frequently look for a smaller syringe, therefore a change in packaging may be something to invest in for the future.

22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?

Yes in terms of distribution. We are currently in the process of finding out where the countries with the least barriers to entry are and we plan to market directly to them via wholesalers.

23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?

We believe that CalfStick® has large global potential as the dairy and beef industries are growing drastically to provide for the growing populations especially within China and other developing countries. With powdered infant formula supply increasing substantially year-on-year, the demand on the dairy industry is set to rise. With this rise, dairy farmers will seek ways to make the day-to-day tasks more streamlined. CalfStick® achieves that.

24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?

Currently we are not planning to expand our workforce; however, CVs may be sent for review for the future to info@calfstick.com should anything arise. 

25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?

We have availed of a number of funding sources from a graduate payment scheme to funding with our formulation studies as well as funding to help with market identifcation. Currently, we are not actively seeking funding from Venture capitals; however, if interested please do not hesitate to contact via email (info@calfstick.com).

26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?

Investigate all funding opportunities to help you along the way. Believe in your concept. Be open to criticism. Network with like minded businesses. Have fun.

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