By Cally Reed, Program Associate, UNI Center for Business Growth and Innovation
When it comes to electric fencing insulation, Insulights is the name to know in Iowa. The company founder, Bill Brown recently won first place in the John Pappajohn pitch competition with his company Insulights at Entrefest
in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I had the pleasure of having a brief conversation about how his company started, what it was like to get the resources he needed to have starting a company in Iowa, and his plans for the company's next steps.
What are Insulights?
Insulights are an affordable agriculture electric fence insulator that helps livestock and orchard managers protect and manage their electric fences. Insulights are the only blue insulator equipped with a flashing LED light that warns farmers and ranchers of their damaged electric fence and assists them in finding the break in their circuit.
Insulights work on steel posts, wooden posts and t-posts. When installed, Insulights flash with the pulse of the electric fence. When there is a break in the circuit, they stop flashing. Checking electric fences is now as easy as looking down the electric fence line: the flash of the Insulights assures farmers and ranchers that their fence circuit is hot.
Insulights make identifying broken fencing easy. When Insulights are installed throughout the fence line, managers can easily identify the location of a circuit break following the last flashing Insulight
What makes your company the best solution to the problem?
Fencing companies have manufactured and marketed a variety of “fence testers” that requires extensive manual testing, which is not practical across large tracts of farmland. Insulights, on the other hand, immediately provides visual indication of a break. Insulights is the only insulator that works on all three industry standard posts, steel posts, t-posts and wooden posts
Surveys show that livestock managers manually check their fences every day or a least once a week. Now with Insulights checking fence viability is a simple glace at the Insulators.
Was there a time you remember as "the deciding moment" that made you start this company?
Starting Insulights comes after years of manually checking fences growing up on the farm and more recently my horse’s fences. This has been a gradual process of “there must be another way."
Pictured above: the Brown family
In 2012, I started TreePans.com
and since then I can’t shut it off. I am constantly looking for process improvement opportunities.
What Iowa resources have you used to help you get to where you are today as a business?
We have been lucky to have had a lot of support in this process. We have a board of advisers and organizations that have really made this possible. Iowa Economic Development
has provided funding all through the early stages. Todd Rausch and the SBDC
helped us write our first business plan.
Our home town Akron, Iowa and its Akron Economic Development has been very supportive. We have participated in Venture School through the University of Iowa
with John Paul Engel. We highly recommend going through the program if you are starting a business.
We really could not list our resources without mentioning John and Mary Lucken for all their support with funding and consulting.
What do the next steps look like for your company?
We are very excited to be entering our next steps of production. Our molds should be arriving early August and we can start production from there. We have our first trade shows scheduled and the interest has been amazing. We have a distribution company that wants to take Insulights to South Africa and our website Insulights.com
should be launched any day!
You can learn more about Bill Brown's latest company, Insulights and how they are changing the electric fencing landscape at insulights.com
-- as soon as their new website is live!