Business

Iowa start-up SwineTech raises $1.3 million to help piglets live

New Sharon-based company is an alum of the Iowa Startup Accelerator

Pigs find a ray of late morning light in one of the hog barns managed by Ryan Kress in Winthrop on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Pigs find a ray of late morning light in one of the hog barns managed by Ryan Kress in Winthrop on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

SwineTech, a start-up founded by University of Iowa graduates, has brought in $1.3 million in investment money for its mission to reduce piglet deaths.

The New Sharon-based company has developed a wearable device for sows that detects squeals from piglets. If a sow lays down on a piglet, which could lead to its death, SwineTech’s device picks up on the sound and issues a vibration or shock to get the sow to move.

In an email, co-founder Matthew Rooda said the company will use the funding for manufacturing and a commercial launch of their device. He said SwineTech plans to start selling the device in August.

SwineTech went through the Cedar Rapids-based Iowa Startup Accelerator in 2015.

The company raised the funds from 26 investors, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Rooda said investors included the Iowa Startup Accelerator, Mason City-based Ag Ventures Alliance, New York-based venture fund Quake Capital and Gopher Angels, an angel investor group in Minnesota.

Since starting the company, SwineTech’s founders have become common sights at start-up pitch competitions around the United States. Rooda said the company has raised $345,000 just from pitch competitions. Rooda and co-founder Abraham Espinoza are in their early 20s.

The company also has received a wide array of media attention, including outlets such as CNN and The Boston Globe. Rooda told CNN three large pig farms in Iowa, Illinois and Tennessee will begin using SwineTech’s devices, which cost $1,200 each, this fall.

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He said SwineTech manufactures its device through BeraTek Industries, based in Cedar Rapids, with assembly occurring from a company in Davenport.

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; matthew.patane@thegazette.com

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