From horse girl to entrepreneur

Menke Steenbergen founded IPOS Technology in 2018 after 5 years of measuring horses' rein tension

How it all began…

From an early age I had the ambition to become a rider, preferably a great rider. I’ve put all my time, money and energy into training my horse, taking lessons and time after time repeating the exercises until the execution was nearly perfect. Then, when Grand Prix level came into sight, my horse developed an injury… That moment I decided to become a veterinarian. During my education in veterinary medicine I discovered some fundamental insights:

At least half of all the horses in training are suffering from injuries, which means that they cannot live up to their optimal sports performance. I was not the only one with an injured horse.

The injury was actually caused by all my repeating of the same exercises over and over. As a rider, I had to keep repeating it to get it right. This caused an overload on my horse’s muscles and tendons.

I lacked insight; insight in understanding what I was actually doing wrong…

Training with top trainers…

I was very fortunate to be able to train with top riders and instructors, such as Imke Schellekens-Bartels. Training with them made me realize that trainers in general are not really specific in their directions. It’s very hard as riders to understand what a coach is really trying to say. This is mainly due to the fact that we are talking about a certain feeling, and feelings typically are very hard to explain.

This made me think, can we do things differently?  As a scientist I am very fond of facts and objective data. After all, to measure is to know. If we, as riders, could have facts available on what the optimal feeling should be, on what our instructor actually means, maybe we could make training more efficient, and prevent injuries. I dived into all the available scientific research where they had used technology and came to the conclusion that technology for horse riders is a very new territory with a lot of possibilities.

Smart technology…

If only I could train my horse using smart technology providing objective information to me… And so the idea for IPOS technology arose. The first sensors we developed were rein sensors. I thought it would be amazing if I could measure and compare my rein aids with other, better riders and see how I could improve. The rein sensors would give me a lot of insights and possibilities to improve, which I am very proud to share with the world.

For me it also meant I had to change my own attitude from being a horse girl to becoming an entrepreneur. An exciting new phase, because being an entrepreneur is not something you learn in veterinary school. In 2008 I have developed my first rein sensors, and to my own surprise I have sold about 100 of them worldwide. Apparently more riders where struggling with getting the feeling right. Through my clients I have learned what really helps a rider and how we could further develop our software to assist al riders.

HighTechXL Accelerator…

Even though I had sold sensors my business wasn’t growing as fast as I would have liked. I needed new investors and talking to them I realized I still had a lot to learn. Then HighTechXL scouted me to join their program. You can compare HighTechXL with The Voice Of Holland but for becoming the next best technology company. After 4 days of selections and auditions I was selected!  My days at a small home office doing everything by myself were over.

Technology by riders for riders…

So far my team has grown to 7 people, all passionate horse riders that, just like myself, would have wished for more information while training horses. We combine our passion with professional expertise in the fields of technology, marketing and finance.

With this team I have one simple task: bring our new sensors to the market within 3 months. We have had to overcome some hurdles but with the help of the HighTechXL coaches we were able to pull it off. The result: today we present you with the new and improved rein sensors!!!

Efficiency, prevention and insights…

Using technology to increase performance is very normal in other sports. Even though I know the horse sports have been doing without for many years, I believe times are changing and even equestrians benefit from what science has to offer. We have brought great new insights to many riders, helped prevent injuries in an early stage and we’ve made training more efficient for all riders measured so far.

These insights don’t limit themselves to just one rider. As soon as more people start to measure themselves we will be able to do more research and analyses, for example to determine what the most effective training method is. We provide these insights to all our users so we can help more riders achieve a high level.

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