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Actor Ashton Kutcher Invests in GIST Startup

July 18, 2017

Global population growth is increasing, fast. Some estimates predict that by 2050 the global population will reach around 10 billion people. According to tech startup Cowlar, among the biggest challenges for a ballooning population is food production, which will likely need to increase by 70 percent.

Now the new venture is using the internet of things to maximize the dairy production of some of the 280 million dairy animals worldwide.

Cowlar, which CEO Umer Adnan has called the “Fitbit for cows,” has created a smart collar for dairy cows. The small device fits around a cow’s neck and uses motion sensors to monitor temperature, activity and behavior. The data is transmitted to a solar-powered base station and is then translated into actionable items for farmers sent via text, email or voice call in any language.

The goal of Cowlar is to optimize herd health and maximize dairy operations to boost milk yields. If successful, this venture hopes to increase milk yields by 5 percent, adding $50 billion USD to the global food economy.

The startup, which targets emerging markets around the world, is getting significant attention from major startup investors, such as actor Ashton Kutcher.

Recently, on the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Kutcher explained why he decided to invest in Cowlar.

“I want to know that the idea is audacious and that it’s something that has a gigantic total addressable market,” Kutcher said. “I usually like it when at first it doesn’t land in your ear right, like it almost needs to seem nonsensical.”

According to Kutcher, he noticed Cowlar while visiting a startup incubator. Kutcher said when the idea was pitched as the “Fitbit for cows,” the room laughed. But he realized there was serious potential behind the venture.

“That’s funny, but it’s not, because if you think about dairy cow production you actually need to know when the cow is pregnant in order to hit the cycles in order to get the milk from the cows,” he said.

According to the company’s profile on GIST Network, Cowlar sells for a base price of $79 USD per unit while the base station costs $99 per unit. The service also comes with a subscription fee that is approximately $2 per cow.

“These guys are doing it at a reasonable price that actually increases dairy production,” Kutcher said.

Cowlar plans to focus most of its early product implementation in Pakistan, but has identified the United States, India, United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico, Poland, Finland, Vietnam and Nigeria as other potential markets.

Kutcher focuses on investing in early stage startups “when it’s like two guys, a dog and a PowerPoint presentation.” Past investments by Kutcher have included Uber, Spotify, Skype and Airbnb.

Photo Credit: Cowlar