“When David Hunt talks about agriculture and technology, his eyes sparkle and he gestures expressively. His enthusiasm is infectious.”
– Tanyatorn Tongwaranan, The Bangkok Post.
Rooted in agriculture
Coming from a small village in rural Ireland and growing up in a family that owns Ireland’s largest grain importer and exporter, Comex McKinnon, David and Ross Hunt have a rich background in agriculture.
Post college, Ross worked in accounting before he entered the family business while David initially pursued a career in corporate banking. Despite his success in the sector, he found it to be an unsatisfying profession and after five years decided to close the book on his banking career.
David never lost touch with his agricultural roots, and in 2010 he was invited to an agribusiness symposium in the USA.
It was during this trip he realized that the world is on the verge of the next major agricultural revolution and it would be fundamentally driven by digitization and technology, another passion of his since youth.
“If you can’t measure something, you can’t improve it, and global agriculture largely functioned without any proper data driven decision making. All of a sudden I could see all of my great loves in life, tech / animals / plants / outdoors, coalescing into a singular area.”
While in the US, David met Robin Johnston from Canada, the third founder of Cainthus. Like the Hunt brothers, Robin also came from an agricultural background and was happiest when around the animals on the family farm.
“I was always encouraged to be myself and pursue my own interests. I studied math, computer science and engineering in school and I loved it but I didn't feel quite complete. I realized that I needed to be back on the farm and in barns to make me happy.”
Soon after school Robin made the decision to merge both skill sets as a career and begun to investigate ways in which technology could play a role in the family business. Robin's dad was a nutritionist and often frustrated by a lack of data driven insight into animal health. He once asked Robin “Do you think you could teach a computer to understand cows?” and from this point, an idea began to form.
Shortly after returning to Ireland, David joined Comex where Ross was developing a computer-system to digitize and automate the company’s back-end system. The net result was a doubling in size of the company from €108m in revenue to €203 million in two and a half years without hiring a single person.
Then, in 2013, for David’s 30th birthday, Ross organized a place on Singularity University’s executive program in California.
“SU made it clear that while developing software was expensive, the cost of imaging sensors and GPU’s were dropping at an exponential rate while improving in quality. It became obvious that if you built the right intelligent software, you would be able to profitably deploy a system that could offer accurate measurement to farmers. This realization is what became Cainthus.”
By mid-2014, the Hunt brothers left the family business and co-founded Cainthus with Robin.