Catching Up with Our 2017 Winners – Vence

Meet Vence, a 2017 alum and $100K winner that provides virtual fencing and autonomous animal control.

Transforming the livestock management industry, the team uses technology to remove fencing and labor and significantly increase the efficiency and productivity of livestock farms. Users can create virtual fence lines anywhere on their property using the Vence smartphone or web app, employ static or dynamic boundaries to dictate grazing behavior, and even monitor animal wellbeing. With this technology, we can meet the ever-increasing global food production demands.

We had a chance to catch up with Frank Wooten, Founder & CEO, about his experience going through the MC accelerator:


Take us back to MassChallenge Awards... what was going through your mind when you heard your startup name called to the stage?
I had watched every other pitch, and despite my competitive nature, I felt OK about not getting an award given the strength of the competition. I was convinced that I hadn’t won, and that was only reinforced when the award presenter was the founder of a non-profit… I assumed the last award would go to one. When Vence got called, it took a couple seconds to register and then things got super profound and deeply spiritual. A loud voice in my head yelled “F*@#&%CK YEAH!”

As a winner, how do you plan to use the cash prize to further accelerate growth?
We have started ramping up our next stage of product development ahead of receiving the capital. $100k can go a long way if you are scrappy and it will help us deliver pilot units on farms and get to revenue ASAP.

What would you say has been the key driver of your success throughout the program?
I don’t have any real brilliant insight for success other than to listen. When a customer, investor, mentor, or anyone asks me a question, I want to understand what they are trying to tell me. Best case scenario, they have insight into some gaping hole in my business I didn’t see and can now address quickly. This is especially true for investors. When they ask questions, they give you a roadmap, so jot their points down, go back to your team, and build answers. After that? Refresh and do it 200 times.

What has been the hardest lesson to learn?
Failing faster, and I am still learning this one. I can be really stubborn at times and try to hold out for the outcome I’m hoping for. Persistence is only an asset when I can check my ego at the door, otherwise I am just being stubborn and frequently it’s an attempt to validate myself.

What advice do you have for startups thinking about applying to MC?
There aren’t many scenarios in life when you don’t have much to lose. This is one of them. Few entrepreneurs have the framework to build something truly successful in a vacuum. Collaboration is quicker, more robust, and a lot more fun.