Black Box Co is a cloud-based software program that manages and compares large datasets, presenting insights in graphical form on online dashboards. It is the brainchild of two northern Queensland women, Shannon Speight and Emma Black. “By simply uploading a file to Black Box, data can be tied together across the supply chain,” Shannon says. “It becomes a decision-making tool that you can execute and it gives maximum insight for minimum effort. It takes the grunt work out of data analysis from fertility to growth to carcass.”
In this interview Emma and Shannon share insights into their first year of business going from:
- Emma and Shannon working part-time to now having a full time staff of 10 people
- Zero cattle on their database to having 900,000
- Zero data points to 15 million data points
Shannon and Emma also reflect on:
- the value and experience they have gained from their mentors
- tips for applying for awards
- what a typical day looks for both of them as business women with 4 children under 6 between them – the negotiables and the non negotiables
- Importance of self care and what that looks like for them personally
When the moons align make the most of it. Shannon and Emma have leveraged key moments in their lives and their strengths
- Shannon’s involvement in Northern Genomics Project with the University of Queensland
- Both being winners of the Zanda McDonald Award
- Their drive and commitment to being solutions focused
- Both living in Northern Queensland
- Power of the bottom up approach
- Success is identifying a gap and meeting the wants and needs of your customer.
- Identify and work with the early adopters
“its not about balance – you are always juggling balls. You have to work out which balls are made of glass and which ones are made of rubber” Shannon
“awards are about taking a giant leap and making the most of the experience. Whilst the award initially recognises something you have done, the follow up and the opportunities are the best part that comes from awards” Emma
“the Zanda Award has been instrumental in changing both our lives. We both had people who tapped us on the shoulder and back us when we applied. On the other hand when you get knocked back for an award it can be just as important as a learning experience. Applying for awards multiple times can make you stronger each time” Shannon
‘do your research when applying for an award, find out what the judges are looking for, ring some-one who has applied before, really put the effort in” Emma
“a good mentor can really challenge you and your thinking” Emma
More from Black Box Co in the Media here
Shannon Speight and Emma Black. Photo credit Outback Magazine
Shannon is passionate about the beef and livestock industry. Having graduated as a veterinarian from the University of Sydney Shannon has spent extensive time working within the beef industry in various roles. Shannon began as a vet working with live export in North Queensland and then mixed practice in Charters Towers and Longreach.
One of her most recent roles has seen her coordinate a large scale beef genomics project across Northern Australia. This project has involved over 50 properties from Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia and ovarian scanning over 30,000 heifers to develop a DNA suitable for northern cattle with a focus on fertility traits. Shannon was integral in supporting producers with data collection, ovarian scanning and pregnancy testing and providing genomic and production feedback to producers.
Shannon was awarded the Zanda McDonald Award in 2019. The Zanda McDonald Award has been running for the past six years and seeks to highlight talented and passionate young individuals working in the agricultural sector. This highly prestigious Trans-Tasman award allowed Shannon an impressive personal development package that included a trans-Tasman mentoring trip and the ability to get up close and personal with leaders in the Australasian ag sector through the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group.
Shannon has since co-founded Black Box Co an innovative SaaS (Software as a Service) product that ingests raw data across the beef supply chain to inform prediction, forecasting and key production insights. Black Box Co has secured production data on over 900,000 animals and this product is now being trialled with key commercial partners across the beef supply chain.
Shannon is currently completing her Masters of Business Administration through James Cook University and is the chairperson of the Beef Australia Next Generation Committee.
Emma has always been passionate about the beef and livestock industry since growing up on a property in Western Queensland. Educated at the University of New England, Armidale NSW, Emma went on to work in livestock nutrition consulting followed by meat processing to gain a knowledge right along the beef supply chain. To apply this knowledge, Emma then worked in extension services taking a whole-of-business approach, working directly with beef producers and industry to assist in livestock nutrition, pasture/livestock management, meat quality, business/data analysis and general property management.
Emma has since co-founded Black Box Co, an innovative software that ingests raw production data from right along the beef supply chain, instantly turning it into key insights to inform production decisions, prediction and forecasting. Black Box Co has secured production data on over 900,000 animals and is currently being trialled with key commercial partners across the beef supply chain.
Emma was the inaugural winner of the prestigious Zanda McDonald Award which has provided her with ongoing mentoring and guidance from the biggest movers and shakers in the agricultural industries across Australia and New Zealand through the Platinum Primary Producer (PPP) Group. To further her knowledge and skill set Emma is currently studying a Masters in Business Administration. She is extremely passionate about mentoring the next generation including young producers, university and high school students.