'In Conversation with' Neil Amrhein

Lawn Care Re-engineered

For June’s “In Conversation with” webinar, we were joined by Neil Amrhein, CEO of My Goat, Inc, where he discussed the history of My Goat, the technology behind it, and how utilizing My Goat can revolutionize cemetery lawn care. My Goat is a software company that improves labor productivity, reduces cost and positively impacts the environment. It’s easiest described as “Roomba meets Netflix” for commercial lawn mowing. Specifically developed for commercial owners and managers, My Goat has thrived in the cemetery industry.

Key Takeaways:

  • A “Goat” is an autonomous robot mower that stays inside a hardwired “pen” with an invisible fence that “grazes” the grass. The innovative software of My Goat allows the “shepherd,” the person who maintains the goat, to understand the efficiency of the Goat.
  • The Goats maintain grass daily, instead of one time per week, which increases labor productivity. -My Goat provides a 30-35% reduction in labor cost.
  • The goats are noise-free and have a zero-carbon footprint, which helps to create serenity during services.
  • Maintenance on the software is done by the shepherds. There is an adoption process and continuous education provided to understand and develop a skill in the technology and proficiency of the mower.
  • Software includes the “4 M’s” Monitor, Maintain, Move, and Manage.
    • Monitor: the big picture of the project. Supervisors can look at the dashboard to see the health of the goat and the environmental impact. It also allows you to see the Goat utilization and optimization.
    • Maintain: Allows “shepherds” to stay proactive. Issues can be logged into the system, SMS texts provided when the blades need to be changed, as well as other alerts.
    • Move: Alerts when a goat needs to move to another “pen” and continues a rotation on a schedule
    • Manage: Designed to have an easy user experience. The goat is used to identify imperfections in the property, such as holes that can be a liability.
  • After the grass is cut, the grass is then mulched, which proves to be healthier for the grass and its regrowth. The goats maintain once a day and finds tall grass to cut.

Transcript

Stephen Carter

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, thank you, everyone, for joining us. We're here today to speak with Neil about his company, My Goat, and learn a little bit about his journey and his love for technology and how he's helping the industry. My name is Stephen Carter. I'm with OpusXenta. I want to introduce Marlena Weitzner as well. She is our Regional Marketing Manager. She is going to be watching the chats for questions and things that you guys have.

Stephen Carter

Neil and I would love for you guys to go ahead and throw questions at us as we go. Marlena will interrupt us and let us know as questions pop up in the chat room, present those to us and we'll try to answer them as we go. So that way we can get to them all and hopefully keep the conversation moving and get you guys what you need. So with that being said, again, welcome. I'm going to go ahead and let Neil just kind of briefly introduce himself and we'll start asking some really good questions and move from there.

Neil Amrhein

Thanks, Stephen, for having me here today, and Marlena, for hosting and putting this all together. Appreciate the time and the interest in conversation this afternoon, which will be hopefully fun and valuable. My name is Neil Amrhein. I'm the CEO and founder of My Goat, which is a software technology company that specializes, I think, the best tagline that we've described what we do is we are Roomba meets Netflix for commercial lawn mowing. So we use autonomous robotic mowers and a subscription service that assists commercial property managers, commercial property owners from large landscape companies to obviously cemeteries which we'll spend a lot of time talking about today, regional airports, golf courses, universities, the kind of grounds.

Neil Amrhein

But the concept of My Goat is really that autonomous robotic mowers and robots in general are here, and every day they're making and manufacturing more of them. We are robot agnostic, so we don't make the hardware. We actually design and develop the software, which is really the user experience. So in a nutshell, you know, robots will do what they want to do all the time because they are just programed that way. It's how the human beings interact and interface with them, and that's what we really specialize in.

Neil Amrhein

How do you work around the robots? How do you maximize and optimize? We'll talk a little bit about that today. So kind of at a high level, that's what we've been doing. I founded the company over three years ago and we've had a lot of success in many different industries and hope to have a lot more coming up.

Stephen Carter

Wonderful. Yeah, Neil, and I think that, you know, I'd love to hear some of that journey and how you got you got where you are. You kind of touched on that a little bit. I found it really interesting when we spoke before. So, yeah. Tell us how you got to My Goat. Just sum that up for us a little bit. Like, where did you start and how did you get there? What drove that interest?

Neil Amrhein

Yeah. So historically I had a lot of corporate jobs over the years. I worked for the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company for a number of years. The hospitality industry with obviously emphasis on luxury service and that experience. I spent about a decade in technology as a recovering mercenary sales guy. So I understand kind of that arena. But about 12 or 14 years ago, I founded a home health care company that specializes in nonmedical home care services, where we hire caregivers on a part time basis and we leverage their skill set, their empathy, their compassion to help and assist seniors with their daily living activities.

Neil Amrhein

So we expanded our company, which I still have in Tennessee, as well as offices in South Carolina, and realized that after nearly 5000 folks working with us over the last 12 years, that it's always difficult to recruit and hire and train and continue that that program. But I came across autonomous robots a little over three and a half years ago, which I been in the market since about 1995. So I've never really believed in bleeding edge technology, but we're 20-25 years into what's going on in that industry.

Neil Amrhein

So I kind of developed/designed the financial operational model and took that and ran with it. In some cases I wish I had some robots where the artificial intelligence was advanced enough for them to help some of my seniors. Some of my 90 year-olds get out of bed in the morning. But I, kind of, kicked it off and started from there and  have been so successful. So really I'd say my superpower, if I had any superpowers, would be the understanding of labor and numbers as far as that's concerned. And how do we streamline what we do?

Neil Amrhein

I also believe in applying technology. I don't know that new technology is really being invented. I think we're in an era where technology is being applied. Probably since the Internet, there haven't been any real new innovative things have gone on. But now how do you apply the things that are out there? I think that's a new iteration of what we got going on. So we'll talk more about that today, I hope.

Stephen Carter

Definitely, yeah, and I know we have talked a little bit about that in the past with your team and there are a lot of fun and I'm so super excited. So we've been on the road and at conventions and things like that. And we're both going to be in Hilton Head next week at the SCCFA or the Southern Convention. So super excited to meet you guys and hear some of your stories about My Goat. But, you know, one of the things that we get asked a lot is about our name OpusXenta. So "Opus" is the Latin word for business. And then "Xenta" is kind of a play on words for center. So, the business center.

Stephen Carter

And you talked about technology and software. So, you know, we're big in that same arena, right? How do we leverage the customizations and the workflows and things like that to help reduce in some of the, maybe not necessarily the need for staffing, but the strain on staffing, right? So I guess that's my question, is about your name. How did you come up with the name My Goat and tell us a little bit about the name and how you use that in your marketing and things like that.

Neil Amrhein

Sure. So, you know, goats graze and so do autonomous robotic mowers. So we initially had a business plan or business model that I put together that was centered around the eighty five billion dollar, give or take, residential market. And we thought, well, this would be interesting to call the robots, the autonomous robots, "goats". And it just kind of caught from there. And even though we're a software company, some of our golf course supervisors don't love the idea of having a goat track as opposed to a golf course.

Neil Amrhein

So there are some snafus as far as marketing is concerned, so it's not perfect. But we have intertwined the idea of the goat being a robot that stays inside of a pen. And a pen is an area of, it's about the size of a football field. It could be several football fields, but it's a goat stays inside that pen. And that pen is basically hardwired with an invisible dog fence. And inside that pen, the goat grazes.

Neil Amrhein

And we've even had some customers, we have a little tiny three inch blades on the bottom of our goats. They call them teeth. So obviously they're missing teeth. They can't graze. And it's kind of carried on. We've got everything from the wheels to the operating system, the heart, the head and the folks that maintain all of the goats are called shepherds. So, of course, our shepherds in the commercial space are actually our customers. They're the ones who are responsible for herding the goats.

Neil Amrhein

And we have developed a fairly extensive certification program where we call them shepherds with Level One certified, or master shepherds if they've completed a certain level where they can manage and maintain, move and monitor multiple goats in a, you know, maybe 130 or 150 acres across golf courses or any size cemetery, because goats will only operate and work as well as the environment permits them to. So if a goat is the size of a pizza box on wheels, which is probably our standard size goat, it will get trapped if there's a limb that falls out of a tree because there's a lightning strike or it just won't work if the lightning strike happens to hit the power cord or power brick or impact it, because they're all electric.

Neil Amrhein

So it's been interesting to watch as a software technology company and assimilate, I guess, or assign the My Goat brand with "what do you guys actually do? What does that mean?"

Stephen Carter

Well, that's interesting, so you talk about that, so I guess maybe discuss that a little more. We talked through kind of how this is the... You're discussing labor, right? So we're talking about a little bit of the labor and the technology and how those synergies are there. So you're saying you have the Goat shepherds, right? Those are the people, your customers really, that are kind of monitoring the goats, so to speak. But you're a service based company. And so talk a little bit about that. So you're saying I don't come to you and say I want to buy a mower and then I try to figure it out because I would never, I wouldn't have the time, right? I would just sit in the garage until I could figure it out, so talk a little bit about that.

Neil Amrhein

Yeah, so having spent some time in technology, my experience has been that technology, just that it's better, faster and cheaper, right? The hardware itself, it's really the software that makes the difference. You know, in my experience with data storage and servers and enterprise level hardware, there was a time where we were selling a terabyte of storage for one hundred and twenty thousand dollars. And, you know, today you can get a terabyte flash drive for pennies on the dollar. Looking down here to a 32 gig flash drive that I probably got for 15 bucks. So if you really look at that's the way TVs are, the ones you buy at Costco from High-Definition to whatever.

Neil Amrhein

So we know that the hardware is going to get better, faster, cheaper, even with the robots. The question is, how do you manage them? How do you integrate them? So our position is that as being robot agnostic, that we welcome the new and latest greatest hardware. But how do you kind of interface that?

Neil Amrhein

It's kind of what Apple does with every one of their iPhones, that you get a new different kind of power cord that doesn't seem to work with the previous one all the time. Which I don't, that's a different business model than mine. We want you to use any, if you want to use Android, great. Want to use an iPhone, that's fine, too. So what we're focused on is disrupting an industry we call the status quo. And the status quo is big guy like myself on a big machine that's loud, that's limited because it's 1800 pounds.

Neil Amrhein

Can't really, you could run it at night or maybe, but most likely you're not and you're not going to run it in the rain because it'll create a lot of divots if you have a golf course or a cemetery. So what can we do differently? So we can take autonomous robotic machines that weigh twenty seven pounds and have them work one hundred and sixty eight hours a week, the efficiency is incredibly better. And our software is the one that allows the operator, the shepherd, to realize whether or not the goat is grazing or charging or happens to have an error or is trapped in some way, shape or form.

Neil Amrhein

And with our software, we have tools that allow the shepherd to understand if that goat is being efficient. So let me give you a real life example. Typically, a goat that's that size will be able to maintain about anywhere from two to three football fields a week. So you think about the fastest, biggest, most powerful 70 inch or even larger zero turn hour and had somebody unload that from a trailer, they would not be able to do two football fields in thirty five minutes.

Neil Amrhein

But we can do that with our technology. Right, with the hardware, because it's always going. So it's not the concept of mowing every six days. It's maintaining every day because really the blades of grass, they just keep growing and we're able to take advantage of the night and the rain and other things that just can't happen. So with that level efficiency, we're able to drive labor costs down by thirty, thirty five percent and labor productivity up by almost the same number.

Neil Amrhein

And that is a game changer. We're also able to eliminate some of the maintenance that's responsible. If you hit a tree stump with a forty two inch blade usually requires a pretty heavy overall, the maintenance side. But one of the most impactful components of using electric robotic mowers is that they make no noise and they have zero carbon footprint. And that plays especially well in the cemetery space where you want that level of serenity and impact.

Neil Amrhein

Even from a labor perspective, you don't have to have your guy on the mower turn off his mower three times a day when there's a service taking place and you're paying that person twenty three dollars an hour, seventeen dollars an hour, whatever it might be, and they're sitting there forty five minutes in in July, June. And it's costing money. And so we eliminate a lot of those operational challenges that sometimes haven't been thought of. I think the last thing is on the environmental side, they don't kick up the grass onto marker's.

Neil Amrhein

They're not doing any damage to bases or uprights. Again, it's a very small machine that's got a lot of great sensors and ability to take care of things without damaging the property and families appreciate that.

Stephen Carter

Yeah, I think that.

Marlena Weitzner

Question sorry, Stephen, we had a question come through the chat. Somebody had asked, is maintenance easy enough that it can be done by the shepherds?

Neil Amrhein

It is. It is. In fact, that's one of the things we emphasize and it's an important part of our delivery system. So the subscription, just like anything else, the hardware and the replacement for blades and other things are included in the monthly subscription. So it keeps your operating costs flat and your capital investment limited and minimal. But an emphasis in our business is that the adoption component, one of our core values, is being educators.

Neil Amrhein

So we spent a lot of time developing certification programs that allow groundskeepers to become technology groundskeepers. So it's not necessarily a dead end job, so to speak. If you have an opportunity to continue to have continuing education units and get to understand and develop a skill set that is unique in the groundskeeping space. And again, the second job of a groundskeeper, especially in the cemetery spaces, is to mow lawns. The first is really to maintain the property.

Neil Amrhein

Design, develop, build mausoleums, cremation gardens, dig holes, prepare for ceremonies, they have other responsibilities. It just happens to be that in Tennessee you're mowing 34 weeks a year. In Michigan, where Marlena is, it's more like 17-22 weeks a year. In South Florida it's I know they're only 52 weeks of the year, but it's more like 55-57 weeks a year because you're mowing twice a week just to maintain it.

Neil Amrhein

So those have become a responsibility where people have to hire more people for work. s

Neil Amrhein

So the short answer is yes. The level one certification, you become very proficient at being able to repair the wires and move the goats from one pen to the other. And then we have a level two and a level three and other technologies that go along with that.

Stephen Carter

That's fantastic, and I know you touched on this, and as I said, I talked to your team in the past, but, you know, personally, I switched when I moved into this home to a battery operated electric mower. And my neighbors actually make fun of me because my mower so quiet, you can barely even tell it's on. So, yeah, you were talking to that a little bit. The serenity of that. Being able to mow, especially at a cemetery, even a business where you want things calm and quiet.

Stephen Carter

You know, you don't want dust being kicked up as customers are coming and going. I think that's really amazing. And it's probably one of the best parts about it. Until you hear an electric motor operate, you can't even imagine just, I mean, it's quieter than a vacuum or any of those things. So it's quite amazing what you can do so. All right. So we've talked a little bit about that. And I think, you know, I think you've touched on a little.

Stephen Carter

But do you have any stories of success stories that you can share with us of where you've seen this really help efficiencies or things like that that you can kind of share? You know, just something to give us an idea, you said 30-35% reduction cost labor. So can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Neil Amrhein

Yeah, yeah. So, you know, an average size, you know, maybe I'd say average, let's just call it, a 50 acre cemetery. Because you're going in and out of markers and uprights using a zero turn or a riding mower or even a push behind where we really started having an impact in the cemetery industry where the we call the private estates or the super high end areas where you have gates that families have purchased 10 by 10 or 20 by 20 properties, and opening those gates and having the groundskeepers come in there and individually mow is just, it's labor intensive.

Neil Amrhein

So we were able to be challenged, I guess, to those areas. But typically, we've got one example I'm thinking of right now where it's probably close to a 70 acre property. And in years past, they've had two full time guys on mowers starting on one end of the property, going to the other six days, five days a week, six to seven hours a day each. They get to the end and then on Monday, they start back over and they do that thirty, thirty two, three, four times a year.

Neil Amrhein

With my goat solution, you know, you have one person managing and moving and maintaining across that type of a property somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty four, twenty five, maybe twenty six goats and spending about thirty five minutes a week doing that. So you go from two FTE's to a little over a half a full time employee. So you can redeploy one of those FTE's obviously to do some of the things and the other full time employee can be involved in beautification, pruning the trees or putting mulch down or planting flowers.

Neil Amrhein

So it's a great opportunity to redeploy individuals to be more productive. In addition to that, I mean, the payback period, the investment in My Goat as a software technology solution is typically anywhere from eight months to twenty eight months, depending on the size of the property. Usually the larger the property, the faster the payback period, because the calculators that we use with insurance that you have, gas that keeps going up, you know, an average zero turnover is burning a gallon of gas for every acre or so.

Neil Amrhein

And then every hour of gas that they're burning is equivalent to the same amount of carbon footprint that you get from a like a Toyota Camry running three hundred miles. Right. So it begins to really add up quickly when you have all those factors. On top of that, because the goats are light, they're not doing any damage to the property, which is a huge reduction. And when they go up and over markers, for example, they're also trimming what we call the kind of the carrot tops where you have guys who have weed whackers and wire trimmers and so forth.

Neil Amrhein

It actually beautifies the campus. So you don't have these kind of carrot top that are sticking up, but it's kind of a flat. So it's reducing. We have a few testimonials, up to 50 percent of the traditional labor required to just use weed whackers. So, there are lots of different areas, and it has a huge impact. But really the labor, the cost and the cost savings, the flat operating cost and then, of course, the environmental impact, which sometimes just gets underestimated.

Neil Amrhein

But there are credits in certain states from certain municipalities that you can get in and some of the power companies are super interested in that as well, because they like to sell more power. So they're more interested in removing gas and oil machines.

Stephen Carter

That's an interesting point for sure. Going green, you're right, there's opportunity there for funding and things like that. So something to think about, I guess, if you're a business owner and you're trying to manage that grass out there. So you talked a little bit and I feel like we've touched a lot on the hardware. We touched on the maintenance and stuff. But I want to talk something about the software and how that works. So I guess maybe just give us some insight into that, because I think that's what really sets you apart.

Stephen Carter

I mean, I think the mowers are fun. I think the Goat humor is great. I would recommend somebody sitting up a call just to hear more the goat humor. It's just fascinating. I think it's funny. I love puns. But tell us a little more about the software and how you talk about running it at night and stuff. But how easy is that to set up and how does the scheduling work and just a little bit about that.

Neil Amrhein

Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, the best, best thing I can do is, it's usually about a 12 to 14 minute demonstration. So I welcome anyone to participate. Usually our chief technology officer is running and scheduling those and we generally have two or three of those available every week. We'll have a number of them available this weekend, obviously, when we get down to Hilton Head and have some folks participate. But the software is broken down into what I call kind of four categories.

Neil Amrhein

So we have developed the dashboard, which is user friendly. One of our core values, again, is, you know, let's make it easy, convenient and affordable. So we took the approach to not make it overly sophisticated, but rather something that's like a Google search bar. Right. So you log in and you have initially an entire picture of your property where all your pens are, you know where all the wires are in the ground, guide wires, the boundary wires, et cetera.

Neil Amrhein

These are things that we've mapped out and then are available for yourself. Big picture. And then we fall into these four categories of monitor, maintain, move and manage. So the move part is pretty straightforward, right? There's a scheduling software that says on Tuesday morning at eight o'clock, the Goat gets moved to pen number one, and it's Billy the Goat. So Billy the Goat goes from pen one on Tuesday and stays there maybe until, let's say, Friday afternoon, Friday afternoon, Billy the Goat starts to work in pen 2 and goes, you know, Friday afternoon, all the way through the weekend, back until Tuesday morning, it goes back to pen number one, and it continues that rotation over the course of days.

Neil Amrhein

So, again, they're working throughout the day. There may be some opportunities where environmentally it gets trapped because it runs up on to a base or perhaps it runs up onto a twig or there's an erosion situation that might be near a sidewalk. Those need to be repaired. So typically, we emphasize with our customers that they're not going to fix themselves and if they don't get fixed. So what we offer is the maintenance part, which is, you know, when that happens, you have the ability to snap a picture, take a video and log that event as something that's unresolved.

Neil Amrhein

And when you do that, then we get to diagnose it from our end. But you also get an opportunity to pass that on to your, maybe you have another groundskeeper who's out there with a bag of dirt and they need to fill in that hole. And it needs to be, or maybe there's a marker that needs to be raised or lowered or changed if it's. We can apply it at the golf courses and sports fields and everything else. But since we're having a conversation about cemeteries today, I'll try to keep in that lane, right?

Neil Amrhein

That maintenance also entails our ability to provide SMS alerts to all of our customers when the blades need to change. Right. So it's a proactive approach. We ping the goats every 15 minutes so we know when their trapped. So we can schedule. We even have some of our goats with flags on top of them that come up three or four or five feet. So you can see them across the horizon. One customer, I think that's using binoculars across their cemetery to spy the flags.

Neil Amrhein

But generally when the flags stop and that means the goat needs to be rescued. And so that's the maintenance side of things. It's a very proactive approach. There, of course, is the which I mentioned was the move. So the schedule then you have the monitoring part and the monitoring part is the big picture. This is where the business leaders and a lot of the supervisors, they enjoy looking at the dashboard. That's like gages on a on an airplane dashboard.

Neil Amrhein

And we measure in what we call Goat utilization, which is the goat being utilized to its maximum potential? If it's capable of mowing or grazing for 18 hours a day, and then it's charging for six hours a day, how close are you getting to its utilization and are you optimizing it? You know, but that's what we call another, every technology company has a lot of acronyms we call The HER, which is the. Human engagement ring.

Neil Amrhein

So without the human being involved in rescuing a goat that's trapped. You're not going to have a high GER if you have a low HER. But ultimately, it's the health of the property. So this monitoring tool will show you the financial impact rate and that is the payback period. How many tons of carbon footprint you're saving or eliminating. Those big picture items are the monitor side of things.

Neil Amrhein

And then the manage. The manage goes back again, full circle to the property and the map itself.

Neil Amrhein

It's easy to manage one or two goats, but if you have 30, it gets a little bit more sophisticated and complicated, and that's where, again, our software was designed to have an easy user experience in that management component, and having multiple people be able to manage it, and having issues that are resolved and making sure that you're optimizing the Goat. Because if you can really optimize the Goat and usefulness of the tool, we have many of our groundskeepers who are using it as an advantage to figure out where the imperfections are on their property.

Neil Amrhein

They're not going to walk around 30 acres and try to figure out, hey, there's a tripping hazard over here in the garden area because these particular uprights or these other markers have been sunk in or have risen up over the years because of erosion. They could actually be a liability to the property. For loved ones who come and visit their loved ones, but the Goat finds it, so these imperfections are now identifiable through a tool that is going out there and working all the time and doing its thing.

Neil Amrhein

So that is, you actually have an extension. You almost have what one of our members our team calls a autonomous zero turn mower that goes out and finds imperfections on the property while you're going and doing other things.

Marlena Weitzner

Yeah, sorry, there is another question. Kind of goes back to before you talked about the 4 Ms. But what comes with your subscription service?

Neil Amrhein

Yeah. So it's generally a 36-48 month contract. And with our subscription we include all the hardware, all the blade replacements, obviously continued education units, the certification that goes along with it, the monthly subscription varies per pen. It's not per Goat, it's how many pens you have and usually it's a two to one ratio of goats. Two pens for every goat. We're actually getting more sophisticated with some of the things that we've designed on the hardware side where we're pulling more hardware off of the property so there's less to damage, less opportunity for theft, it becomes more autonomous.

Neil Amrhein

I don't want to speak too early, but we have some interesting switch technology that's been designed and developed where it will allow the goat to be notified when it needs to switch from one pen to the other without actually having a shepherd involved in the movement. They obviously have solar capability. Electricity is the biggest restriction. Most big parks or big wide open areas, aside from regional airports, don't have a one tad outlet. And so how do we get a one tad outlet there?

Neil Amrhein

You pull off of the Moslem, you pull it off of a maintenance shed, you pull off the funeral home. Is it already out there? Because we can pull some of that electricity off of a fountain or even electric gate? It's minimal. Not a lot of kilowatts, but yeah. So the subscription includes, again, the certification, all the maintenance. So any maintenance that you had, typically, whether it's oil changes on a big machine or blade replacements or blade sharpening all that's included in in the subscription price, it's ongoing on a monthly basis in a multi year contract.

Stephen Carter

Well, I really loved your last point, and I think that that's the kicker is you talk about the software and you being a software company, and I think that that's cool because what you're saying is, look, you're not just buying a mower. You're getting data and analytics. You're getting information fed to you. You're getting automated notifications. And those are some of the things that as a software company, I guess maybe, I guess that's a personal thing.

Stephen Carter

We appreciate that because we offer some of those same things and we see how important that can be in saving and in labor intensity. But not just that, but in servicing. Right. I mean, from a service standpoint, you're talking about being able to find these things, address these things quicker and faster, beautification, all of those things that people want to see, especially in the cemetery space. But in any business, you know, golf courses are known for being beautiful, right?

Stephen Carter

So being able to find those where maybe somebody went off road in a golf cart or something, right? But I mean, yeah, I can see where a lawn mower service, you know, those big zero turn things, you know, you knock over a headstone or something like that and maybe they don't report it right away or whatever. But that's interesting hearing that you can get a lot more from that, from your service, from your software than just a mower.

Stephen Carter

So it's interesting how you're using that technology.

Neil Amrhein

Yeah. And I would add this, Stephen, and I would say that, you know, again, we look at a lot of technology, a lot of hardware development companies are probably eight to 10 right now that are making mowers. And every day, you know, it's a, again, cheaper, faster, better philosophy in the hardware side of things. And that's OK. But if you make the wrong decision today or if you choose something today that expires tomorrow or next year, you may spend thousands of dollars on the wrong piece of hardware, and it's useless.

Neil Amrhein

Some folks are evaluating, as a true software company, we've had some of our customers suggest that they'd like to just buy massive quantities of hardware, have us retool it. We reengineer these. We modify these, especially in the cemetery space that they're unique to us because we know they work a certain way and then they depreciate and amortize the hardware. But the price of hardware goes down dramatically and that works fine in their accounting department. And it's fine because we can apply the subscription to use the software along those lines.

Neil Amrhein

But, you know, it's a it's a big leap of faith to say this is the right hardware product that we have. This is the right robot for my. And also with a subscription for a golf course, we may use a different type of robot on the tee box. That's different from the fairway. That's definitely different from the greens. They cut a little differently the weigh differently, they operate differently, but they're all run by the software. The operating system itself is the important part.

Neil Amrhein

On the environmental side, again, big machines, they push down the grass. 1800 pounds. You're going to need to aerate and over-seed. You don't need to do that when you have twenty seven pound robots. I've had a number of people approach me who are in the weed control/pest control business and say what  if I add some liquid on top of these robots, these goats that you have? And we could spread it that way instead of having a weed control guy out there running around? What if we could over seed with this autonomously?

Neil Amrhein

You know, the average golf course receives about eighty seven gallons of gas spilled on the course every year. Gas and oil. So it's one of those things where you're trying to make it beautiful. But on the other side, you're really not, you know, so. But again, it's the software. If the data analytics is a collection of tools, it's the optimization. It's the customer interface and usefulness of it in. Look at all the laptops and hardware that we buy today.

Neil Amrhein

I'm talking you through a video camera that's probably nobody even thought we needed, you know, eight or 10 years ago. But we're recording this. So, you know, it now can be extended to others without having to write it down and put it in a document or something of that sort. And so it's just being more efficient.

Stephen Carter

Absolutely, and that is the name of the game, I think anywhere you look and optimization is the keyword. I think every company uses out there, right? I mean, they're always try to figure out how to optimize, whether it's labor, whether it's software, whether it's technology and how can I optimize your business and make you stronger, make it better, make you more efficient and get you where you want to grow to because growth is important.

Stephen Carter

So, you know, that's one of the things that we like to try to do to work with our partners. Obviously, that seems to be your mission as well, is to help with that growth, to help with that optimization and to get people where they want to be, obviously. So, I think it's really great. I think it's a fascinating and I just every time I talk to you guys, I just picture like. In the future, you know, you're just going to be walking around and everywhere you go, you're going to see these little businesses more and more adopting this because, yeah, I see all these lawn mower services out there. And, you know, you drive by and they're kicking grass up everywhere and things like that in the middle of the day. Right. And it's just fascinating to think like there's ways to do this cleaner, neater, quieter and all of that.

Stephen Carter

So it's wonderful. Marlena, were there any more questions or anything that came up while we were going? Are we good?

Marlena Weitzner

No more questions at this time, but if anybody asks some last minute questions, please feel free to drop them in the chat. We will read them off.

Stephen Carter

Yeah, I know we're getting kind of close to the end of the time, so I wanted to make sure that we let everybody know that they have any questions no matter what it is. We'd love to try to field those for you before Neil has to move on for the day.

Marlena Weitzner

Looks like we just got one. All right. So what happens with the grass after it is cut?

Neil Amrhein

Yeah, so it's a great question. So I think depending on who's asking here, I mean, again, I'm not an expert landscaper, but I will say I know enough to be dangerous. And I will say that the sucking sound and all the noise that you hear when it pulls that grass up, it's like getting your hair cut, right? Your barber pulls the hair up and then cuts across, right? That's what the traditional mower does. In our, you know, the mowers we use and the grass gets cut.

Neil Amrhein

It basically kind of cuts the top maybe a quarter inch or a half inch off the top. And then it mulches, it just drops down. So you don't have to worry about it spraying everywhere. It's actually healthier for the grass, whether you like it at 2.5 inches or up to 4.25 inches, depending on what you're using. If it's fescue or we use it across all types of grass in the United States. So it's actually healthier overall in terms of how it does.

Neil Amrhein

And if you think about cutting once a week versus maintaining every day or worst case scenario, that pen might not have a goat in there grazing for seventy two hours. So, you know, I get some pushback from landscapers about how great the striping is. It doesn't stripe. These are some haphazard, random patterns. The sensors are set at a certain point where similar to a Roomba, it goes and finds the grass that needs to be cut down to two and a quarter inches or two and a half inches or two and three quarters of inches.

Neil Amrhein

Anything above that, it's going to find it and stay in that pen for that period of time. But it mulches the grass, drops clippings down, does not spray the grass clippings everywhere over markers. Or certainly you don't have to worry about extra gas powered blower to make sure that your uprights are clean. So quiet, clean, efficient, almost have to see it to believe it. I get it. Again, there are all kinds that are being developed right now that have similar designs and some that are even more unique.

Marlena Weitzner

That's great. And we have another one that came up too. Do you have any special offers for small, non for profit cemeteries with a limited budget?

Neil Amrhein

Yeah, we have. Since we've moved out of the residential space and into the commercial space, you know, generally speaking, we would start with your budget first, even in the nonprofit space, and figure out what are you spending, how much what's your capital purchase this year on a zero turn or riding mower? What are you spending on labor? All those kinds of questions we will put into a kind of our ROI calculator. But generally we start with about five acres, which would be about four Goat pens and typically two goats.

Neil Amrhein

And that's really kind of our smallest. We call it a kind of a goat preview. Generally speaking, that'll give you an opportunity within twenty eight days to figure out, you'll probably know about, especially during growing season, whether it works for your property within seven to 10 days. And then we have typically people go into what we call PAW, which is our Pen adoption workflow, which is a 90 day commitment and that's about 15 acres. That's kind of on the small side for what we would do in the commercial space, whether it's a nonprofit or not, the pricing is pre pen and it's on a monthly basis.

Neil Amrhein

And in the 90 day situation, we'd have an upfront cost, which is the installation. We put the wire in the ground, but 90 percent of the time we need to make sure that somebody is on that property who can become a shepherd. So in addition to electricity, we need to have somebody who can again monitor, manage, move and maintain the goats through our software so they have to be present. So it just really depends. I can't give an exact answer.

Neil Amrhein

And as far as a special rate, I think we would very seriously look at what you're spending today and see if it works for your budget.

Stephen Carter

Makes a lot of sense, and I think it's always good to show that return on investment and how you can help people. So that's awesome that you can do that. And labor costs, you know, there's another thing that you were talking about where technology is getting cheaper, labor costs are going up and it's getting harder. Gas is going up. All those other intangibles that, you know, you can't. To where, your static model does help a little bit with budgeting and planning and those things.

Stephen Carter

I think that's really cool that you guys are offering that. So you're saying that kind of a five acre lot is kind of the minimum area that you would recommend that this service really works well for?

Neil Amrhein

Yeah, the super low end. I would say most folks come and especially the cemetery space. They're coming in at anywhere minimum of 15 acres. And some cemeteries are out there with four or five hundred acres. And they're you know, they have probably about twenty five percent, maybe up to 30 percent of the property that's currently electrified. So when we take that position, we say, well, the low hanging fruit are these areas that you already have electrified.

Neil Amrhein

The next option or the next phase would be electrification of that property or utilizing some of our solar goat sheds that that are available to run the goats instead of running. And we could talk, I could spend another half an hour talking about that, the solar opportunities. But yeah, on the commercial side, it really applies. And like I said, the biggest property usually the faster the payback period, because once we kind of dig in with our CFO and our ROI tools, I look at technology just like I think most technologies look at it.

Neil Amrhein

And that is, you know, it's either an ROI, or you're getting a return on investment, which means you're paying money to make money or you have a TCO, which is the total cost of ownership. And that is you're saving money when you spend money. Right. So either saving money or making money. And there's a combination somewhere in there. The TCO/ROI model calculator's that we use.

Stephen Carter

Yeah, well that's incredible. I know we're getting up against the time. I am again I'm so excited to meet you guys in person to see your booth at SCCFA, to learn more about, I want to hear more about the solar panels. I think that's kind of cool how that technology is working. So, yeah, I'm excited. If we don't have any more questions, I think we can go ahead and move forward with everything. Let this call end.

Neil Amrhein

Right. Well, thanks so much. I appreciate the opportunity. Look forward to putting a name and face together outside of virtual soon enough. So, Marlena, Stephen, thank you for the opportunity.

Stephen Carter

Thank you, Neal. Thank you, everyone.

Marlena Weitzner

Yes, thanks so much.