Equine Design, a company that keeps horses healthy by tracking their water intake, is the winner of the 2016 Student Business of the Year.
Founder Caitlin Parrucci, ’15, M.Eng. ’16, accepted the $5,000 prize from Entrepreneurship at Cornell at an award ceremony April 15, part of the group’s annual entrepreneurship Celebration April 14-15.
A horse-rider for 15 years, the mechanical engineer has created a device that weighs how much water a horse drinks per day. Low water intake can lead to colic and can indicate anything from kidney failure to stress to low appetite, Parrucci said.
“There are a number of reasons why a horse could stop drinking,” she said. “They all should signal an alert to the horse owner.”
She joined Cornell’s varsity equestrian team as a freshman, and in caring for the horses at the Oxley Equestrian Center, she recognized a problem she had seen throughout her riding career: when several people take care of a horse, as is the case in larger equine facilities, it’s difficult to keep track of each horse’s water consumption.
She got the idea for the company after taking a class in innovative product design in the College of Engineering. She took advantage of many other Cornell resources, from entrepreneurship classes at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management to an entrepreneurial finance class in the School of Hotel Administration. She also joined the Hardware Accelerator lab at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works to work up the prototype.
“I’ve really been all over the place,” she said. “And now I’m making connections with the Vet School.”
Within a few weeks she’ll have eight prototypes in place at Oxley with a variety of horses.
“We have one horse who’s a dunker – he dunks his hay in the buckets. We have other strangely behaving horses and some normal drinkers,” she said. “We want to put this device to the test.”