“You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind”–60 Seconds with Simon Hillary, co-founder and CTO, Equine MediRecord

60 Seconds With | Tue 12 Nov | Author – Business & Finance

Simon is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer for Equine MediRecord. Equine MediRecord develops, sells and maintains a mobile application and website to allow proper recording of medicines administered to racehorses and other bloodstock.

What was your first job?

My first job was at age 13, when I worked in furniture removals for a local estate agent. I was basically an extra pair of hands to help the lads move furniture from the customer’s old property to the new one. It was labour intensive, tiring work (I believe the preferred phrase is “character building”).  But as clichéd as that phrase is, the job taught me the value of hard graft, which is a lesson I have held onto ever since.

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

Building Equine MediRecord with my business partner Pierce Dargan and his brother Finlay over the past couple of years to the point we are at now has been one of my greatest achievements. We spent a lot of time building relationships and fine-tuning our platform for our target market, so seeing the impact the platform has in enabling our users to keep informed and compliant of regulation has been very gratifying.

At Equine MediRecord, we are fortunate enough to have received quite a bit of recognition to date for our platform, whether that be from industry awards or newspaper articles. But if I had to pick one source of pride, I would say I am proud to have been selected as one of ‘Ireland’s 30 Under 30’ in The Sunday Business Post in 2018. That felt like a real bucket list achievement to me!  

In three words or less, how do you define success?

I think success has to be something that individuals define for themselves, as opposed to something arbitrary like €1 million  in the bank or an illustrious job title. For me, success is about being the best version of myself that I can be. So I would define success in three words as: “1 percent better”. 

I’m a huge believer in the power of compounding habits. It may seem insignificant in the moment, but setting yourself the goal of being just 1 percent better every day in a chosen area can have massive benefits over the long term. I try to remind myself that success is the product of daily actions, as opposed to once-in-a-lifetime transformations. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

My grandfather was a voracious reader, with an endless supply of Shakespeare quotes and bottomless bag of proverbs always at the ready. Of his many sayings, one springs to mind:

“You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind”. 

As someone who can be prone to planning too much and acting too little, his words are a handy reminder that imperfect action always beats perfect inaction. 
How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

I stick religiously to my task list. I know it sounds weird, but once I write down a task for myself to get done, I become very obsessive about crossing it off my list. An unfinished list will cause me to have something of an existential crisis so that’s usually motivation enough for me!

At Equine MediRecord I am lucky to work with a very talented development team. We typically work in Sprints, each lasting two weeks. We spend time analysing our platform and optimizing it with each additional sprint through some combination of UX Design and new feature development. One of the greatest benefits of our workflow is that each sprint allows us to improve on the work of the previous sprint, and gives our developers the latitude to test out new ideas and flex their creative muscles. We collaboratively work towards developing a best in class solution, which I think is something that motivates our whole team greatly. As such, I don’t actually need to devote any time to motivating the team, all I have to do is keep finding new innovative ways to expand on our platform.

How do you relax?

With great difficulty! The only thing that totally switches me off is travel. I find that a quick break or weekend in different surroundings is a great way of putting things back in perspective after a particularly stressful period. When travel isn’t possible, good food is an excellent substitute, and I will happily eat myself into a coma if given the opportunity. 

What’s your motto?

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”  

It’s a short reminder that success can usually be measured in the number of uncomfortable conversations we are willing to have, and by the number of uncomfortable actions we are willing to take.

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

We are currently going through a period of rapid growth. Our solution initially targeted Thoroughbred Racing operations in Ireland, the UK and France, where the horses are most often subject to strict regulation and testing. In the last year or so, we have seen significant expansion in the current regulation, which means more and more sport horses are now subject to the same level of stringent regulation as was previously reserved for thoroughbred race horses. This, in combination with the uncertainties posed by Brexit, have kept us on our toes in recent months. 

Moving forward, I would like to see us continue our expansion into other areas in Europe where regulation is now catching up. Our platform helps ensure trainers, breeders and all equine athletes can protect their livelihood and keep doing what they love, all while helping to ensure the welfare of the animals they care for. If we can expand our offering and provide the same level of service to a larger market, I’ll be a happy man.