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Krobel Corp: Low-cost health monitoring for pigs

Two high school friends are attempting to decrease the mortality rate of hogs with a monitoring device that alerts farmers when the animal may be sick.

Krobel Corp, started by Ryan Kruse and Kenny Strobel, is developing a sow health monitor that detects if a sow is about to get sick or go into farrowing.

How it works

Krobel Corp’s low-cost health monitoring device is a device that monitors the respiratory rate of an individual hog. It will notify farmers of potentially sick animals, allowing for better treatment and containment.

The device will notify farmers of potentially sick animals, allowing for better treatment and containment. Attaching to the hog’s snout, the device will track respiratory rate based on air temperature changes as the animal inhales and exhales.

The device will store the hog’s respiratory rate information for the previous ten days, which will be used to determine an expected range. If the device finds that the hog’s respiratory rate is out of the expected range for an extended period of time, the device will consider the hog as potentially sick and notify the farmer. By requiring a prolonged change in respiratory rate, the device will avoid false alarms caused by short-term exercise or excitement.

Each device will have a small LED and receiver. This will provide a simple interface between the farmer and the devices. When the farmer is about to walk through the barn to inspect the hogs, a radio signal will be sent out to notify the devices via their receivers. The LEDs will then be used to indicate to the farmer whether or not the corresponding hogs are potentially sick.

Future plans?

Krobel Corp is one of five companies participating in the 2018 cohort of the Iowa Agritech Accelerator.

“We’re early compared to a lot of the other startups,” Krobel said. “We’re just trying to get everything processed. Right now we’re trying to work out our finances, business model, and everything else.”

Krobel Corp is currently in the process of testing and going through data collection. They hope to have a prototype ready by the end of the summer.

“For us right now, the biggest challenge is on the business side of things. We feel pretty confident about the concept of what we’re trying to do and the impacts it could have on the industry,” Kruse said. “That’s one of the great things about being at the accelerator. Not only are they helping us with product development, but they have a lot to offer on the business side of things as well.”

Krobel Corp: Low-cost health monitoring for pigs | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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