What started as a question over the quality of communication he was receiving as a racehorse owner has morphed into a multi-faceted thoroughbred industry management platform for Prism founder Allan Bennetto.
So many of the success stories of the digital age have been borne out of finding a simple technological solution to a problem. For Bennetto, his technological background told him that trainers could 'be better' at communicating with owners.
That motto 'Be Better' has driven Prism from that thought bubble in Bennetto's mind to become one of the key day-to-day digital management tools for trainers, breeders and syndicators.
"I saw the stuff that was coming through and I thought we can do better than this." - Prism founder Allan Bennetto
"I owned a horse with a mate of mine and got the standard sort of updates and having a background in tech and having my own development agency, I saw the stuff that was coming through and I thought we can do better than this," Bennetto told TDN AusNZ.
Never one to shirk a task, Bennetto went to his trainer, determined to find a way to improve things
"I thought the communications were pretty old school and I said to him, can we make some adjustments? We got deeper and deeper into the operational side of the business and we created a blueprint for the digital platform which would make trainers' lives easier," he said.
What he discovered in that month was the lack of digital nous in the industry was not only adversely impacting communications, it was creating inefficiencies right across the training industry, in everything from billing to finance to horse movement.
"You've got these million-dollar horses in this billion-dollar industry and a lot of it was being managed on the back of an envelope a lot of the time." - Allan Bennetto
"If you look at the way the training business works, it was frightening some of the stuff that goes on, when you think about how archaic it was," he said.
"You've got these million-dollar horses in this billion-dollar industry and a lot of it was being managed on the back of an envelope a lot of the time."
The blueprint developed by Bennetto extended far beyond his initial remit. He built a five-year plan to provide a centralised platform to host all aspects of the management of a training business.
"We sat down and created this big blueprint and just started building. It started off as a communications and back-of-house management and has obviously moved into finance, billing and invoicing and then into syndicators and the other facets of the industry that needed it," he said.
"It’s become a big behemoth, and I didn't intend it to be that way, but that's how it’s ended up."
Improving on what had come before
Prism certainly wasn't the first to confront this challenge, but it had two things in its favour when it came to building a bigger picture solution.
The first one was that Bennetto already operated a tech/development team as part of his broader business. That allowed him to allocate resources to the project as needed.
"We've been lucky that I've had resources I can call on to fast-track a lot of the development." - Allan Bennetto
"We are lucky in that because I've got the dev house and we can use those resources at cost," he said.
"We've had up to 30 people working on it at any one time, we’ve built this platform over three years, but it’s a five-year plus build. We've been lucky that I've had resources I can call on to fast-track a lot of the development."
"I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I’d built this business purely from scratch, with that development team. It would be too costly and you’d never get anything done."
"We've managed to have those resources available and off a whim, we can build that stuff out rather than having to build a commercial business case for every change."
Consulting and developing solutions
The second aspect is a commitment to work with existing and prospective clients to improve what Prism can do.
That has not only ensured the roadmap remains focussed on what the market wants, it has created significant goodwill in an industry often suspicious of change and has improved on what has come before.
"We launched our first product and we always took feedback. It's been an evolving process, but what we managed to do we did because we came to a bit later than others and we learnt from their mistakes," he said.
"We were able to take the way trainers have traditionally used these platforms and enhance it with the use of a modern interface." -Allan Bennetto
"We were able to pick up and make things better but also find the gaps and work on them and improve the platform that way."
"We were able to take the way trainers have traditionally used these platforms and enhance it with the use of a modern interface."
Bennetto said Prism was always careful to respect and understand the workflow process stables had in place and ensure that the training was in place to help staff adapt to what was a more efficient system.
"It's really important when you are dealing with an audience that aren't necessarily tech savvy, just to give them what they need up front," he said.
"A lot of these systems that were already in place they may be archaic, but it’s what a lot of these people have been used to for a long time."
"What we always re-iterate is that this is a really simple process."
"It's really important when you are dealing with an audience that aren't necessarily tech savvy, just to give them what they need up front." - Allan Bennetto
"We take on a whole process of teaching everyone in the stable who needs to know and even those who don’t, how the system works. You always get a little bit of resistance, but once they start using, it becomes second nature."
Troy Corstens was among the first trainers to use the Prism system, while the likes of Ciaron Maher, Matt Cumani and Anthony Freedman were significant supporters in that early stage.
Moving to a different level
What has changed for Prism since those early days that it has become much more than a stable management tool. The integration of related partners such as Xero, Amazon, Bluebottle Digital, Postmark, Thoroughbred Payments, Tanda and Credit Clear has enabled it to develop into a hub for all aspects of the thoroughbred business.
"Because we have built this as an agnostic cloud-based platform, we are getting all this interest from peripheral vendors in the market place. People looking to upsell their services through our platform," he said.
"The benefit is that while these are services we won’t be able to offer ourselves, we can offer that as a seamless integration into our platform."
"By default, we have now created a centralised platform with all these people hanging their services off it."
That approach has also allowed Prism to take the central tenets of the original platform and through that integration of third party solutions, provide a tool to a broader range of industry professionals.
"When you peel back the layers, we found that 75 per cent of our system was relevant to what people were doing in those aspects of the industry outside of training," Bennetto said. "Breeders and agistment farms still have to treat their horses and move their horses and the like. "
"We started off as trainers being the primary audience but as we grew, we got more and more enquiries. People asking us about managing their finances and their horses from a day to day perspective."
The key to their success in doing that, said Bennetto, has been to design a product that deals with a lot of complexity, while maintaining simplicity at the interface level.
He uses the example of the 'Add Anything' button, a feature that hangs on every page, which allows a one-touch solution for those using the platform.
From that initial narrow focus around communications and operations, Prism is now a genuine network, with connections across the board, utilising huge amounts of data.
Bennetto and his team continue to consult closely with clients, building a seemingly endless roadmap of potential improvements to 'Be Better'.
The next significant step to come is an improved CRM integration, which will allow a much better experience for syndicators and trainers trying to market their horses to potential clients.
"In this day and age, you can't stay still. We came into industry at a time where there was a little bit of a vacuum," Bennetto said. "You can't afford to rest on your laurels, because there is always something or someone looking to be better."