SAN ANTONIO – While on a skiing trip with family in Breckenridge, Colorado, Coop co-founder AJ Forsythe found himself in a situation precarious to any habitual or professional chicken owner: He was out of state when Winter Storm Uri devastated Texas, prompting him to immediately head home to tend to his flock.
Coop, based out of Austin, was founded to provide a solution to those in such a situation, by offering its own chicken coops and a chicken-watching service. Similar to that of Rover Inc., caretakers (called “chicken tenders”) will provide on-demand checkups and coop refreshment.
“It’s peace of mind so you can be out at dinner and you know that your chickens are safe, or you can be traveling and you can see your tender coming in and checking in on the coop itself and changing food and water,” said Forsythe in an interview with the Business Journal.
Each chicken coop comes equipped with two cameras that utilize computer vision and machine learning technology to notify chicken owners through an accompanying app when, for instance, a threat like a raccoon is near the cage or when eggs have been laid.
Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer Jordan Barnes said in an interview that Coop currently has over 100 chicken tenders signed up across 15 cities in Texas, Colorado, Georgia, Florida and Arizona, roughly 50 of whom are based in Texas with nine currently signed up in San Antonio.
“I threw up some ads on Craigslist and Facebook looking for people who were interested in chickens and we have had, I think, now over 2,000 people apply to become chicken tenders,” said Barnes. “It was crazy, like within the first day 75 people applied.”
According to Coop’s website, each tender application is personally reviewed and spoken with as well as having to undergo a background check. Each tender will have a publicly available profile.
Both Forsythe and Barnes have backgrounds in startups, with each spending years in Silicon Valley. Forsythe sold his on-demand mobile phone repair startup, iCracked, in 2019, which allowed him to obtain most of the proceeds necessary to fund Coop, though Barnes added they’ve received slightly under $2 million in venture capital funding.
For the chicken coops, the company worked alongside Bould Designs, a San Francisco-based design firm that has worked with brands such as Roku Inc., Logitech and GoDaddy Inc. The coops have been in design since June 2021 and will begin shipping in the next three weeks. The company’s app will also ship in a few weeks as it is still in private beta testing.
Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and the San Antonio Business Journal.