Highlights of student-led ventures participating in LaunchPad Lift, a program of the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars entrepreneurship network.
How many 13 and 14 year olds found companies? Not many. But thankfully, that is just what sisters Kate and Annie Madden did in 2015 after winning an award at the largest science fair in Ireland, the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition. The sisters came up with the idea of developing the only totally natural product for stomach problems in horses after noticing the gap in the market. FenuHealth provides a range of products for horses with stomach problems. 50% of foals are born with stomach problems and 90% of racehorses develop stomach problems over their lifespan, so it is a huge problem for the industry.
Betting on the Right Horse
FenuHealth is different from its competitors as all of the products are 100% natural and can be used on the day of the race. There are now nine FenuHealth products on the market that resolve stomach issues like gastric ulcers and encourage horses to eat their feed again. With nine employees on the team, and existing sales in 15 countries, these sibling co-founders are prepared to win.
“Being a student entrepreneur can be really challenging at times,” said Kate. “Trying to balance college life and business life, giving both your best effort, is tough – it can take very different disciplines! Thankfully, the Blackstone LaunchPad on our campus atin University College Cork (UCC) provides a space for quiet calls, teamwork and meetings, and people always willing to lend a helping hand.”
Focus and commitment are key to FenuHealth’s success: even as young, female entrepreneurs in a male-dominated industry, Kate and Annie quickly convey their seriousness and commitment to potential customers, investors, and business partners. (In true #givefirst spirit, Kate recently had the opportunity to share her entrepreneurial experiences and encourage the next generation of teenage girls at the IWish IE STEM Conference.) And determination and resilience are two more values foundational to their company: FenuHealth’s first product took 152 attempts to get the right formula for the results they sought.
According to Annie, she’s learned a lot from fellow student entrepreneurs about time management.
“Unlike most businesspeople, a lot of us have similar problems with trying to balance college work with business work and trying to prioritize one over the other at the right time,” said Annie. “Our mentor has also already taught us some important strategies on how to grow our business online. I think we will really benefit from this experience overall!”