An interview with Alison Koenig, CEO
In the past, buying horses was all about who you knew and what circles certain owners and trainers were associated with. Even worse, selling a horse was a challenge due to a limited reach for your target audience. However, for anyone who has bought or sold a horse in the past few years, you know just how much times have changed in the equine community.
We had a chance to sit down with Alison Koenig, the CEO of Sales Paddock, to speak with her about the platform she created and how it is revolutionizing the equine sale industry. Koenig is no stranger to the industry and found the challenges of buying and selling horses to be an inspiration for the creation of Sales Paddock.
“I have been on every end of the spectrum for buying and selling horses,” said Koenig when asked about how she came up with the idea for the app. “I used to train AQHA horses and took them to AQHA Congress every year. I realized during that time how hard it was to sell horses at horse shows if you didn’t have a network. It was nearly impossible to find out if horses were for sale at shows without knowing a seller. The original process for Sales Paddock started out having an app for horses to be sold in specifically at shows.”
Koenig’s goal was to develop a platform that was functional, easy to use and more efficient for horse buyers and sellers. Koenig set off on a journey – with zero app building experience – to launch Sales Paddock App.
“I just began Googling how to build an app,” she said. “I had very limited tech experience and had been training horses when the thought came to me. I ended up reaching out to companies online who I thought would be a good fit for helping me build Sales Paddock.”
Koenig had phone meetings with potential business partners and learned quite a bit specifically through this process.
“I really encourage people to be careful when looking for a tech company to partner with. I saw what appeared to be a lot of legit looking companies that really weren’t good,” Koenig mentioned when asked about how she found a reputable company to partner with. “I interviewed two companies and the first one is the one I thought I was going to go with. The second one actually was the winner for me. When I got on the phone they understood my vision and got really excited about my project. I would suggest people do a lot of research on anything in the app world. Make sure you read books, research articles and find information for yourself. Find the right people who can help do the hard work for you so you can focus on the parts you are passionate about.”
Originally, Sales Paddock was designed to only be a mobile platform but, as the app began to gain traction and usage, users started asking for more options.
“Because there is such a technology gap in the horse realm, users began requesting that we add a desktop feature. We are currently in the process of building that now. People are still afraid to use their phones for everything and we are slowly pushing the horse community to be more and more tech savvy,” Koenig said.
Sales Paddock is special because it is an app designed to help users connect with buyers and sellers in the area they are located. Built with a special “horse show check” feature, this app lets sellers notify other users at a show that a horse is currently for sale. The app keeps buyers and sellers updated on statuses of horses on the market. Users can save an ad to their favorites or build a collection off of particular search preferences.
“If I’m traveling somewhere I can check the app for any other horses around in the area. This helps make the buying and selling process streamlined, especially if a particular horse for sale doesn’t work out,” said Koenig. “Soon we are going to be doing an ISO feature as well. We also want the capabilities to recommend a seller. So many horse selling websites were smart and got into the business early but have yet to be innovative. We are trying to change that.”
Koenig also commented on how important it was to use proper techniques when trying to sell horses in today’s age of modern technology.
“Facebook is the modern horse selling platform,” noted Koenig. “The problem is that no one wants to put a price up. People complain and get frustrated because they can’t find specific information that is relevant to them. What many individuals don’t understand is that Facebook’s algorithm controls everything. If you can’t play the algorithm right, people will never see your post, which is why so little information is given on Facebook. I think you need to be able to see information up front. The nice thing about the app is that you don’t have to play the Facebook algorithm game. Promote your horse as much as possible, but unfortunately, you are against a lot of odds now, especially in getting the right value for your horse.”
Growing up in the horse world since the age of two, Koenig knew what it was like to be completely submerged into the horse world from all aspects. Her first ride happened at the age of two, and her show career started at the age of five. Her passion and horse experience hasn’t stopped since. We asked her what it took to get involved in the horse industry as a business leader and how it’s possible to get started.
“There’s a lot of ways to be in the horse industry. Don’t let yourself have an expectation of what you should do, make it your own way. Take life lessons and apply them. I did a ton that was free just so I could get the experience. Take every opportunity to learn from an expert and put yourself out there,” she mentioned enthusiastically. “I still have no tech background, yet I’ve found what I’m good at and have gone from there. Don’t be afraid of stuff you don’t know and just go with it. Lastly, find people who are different than you and can help you grow your own business whatever that may be.”
Even though the world of technology is constantly changing, the horse world remains relatively stable, making it an excellent opportunity to branch out in. Sales Paddock is a business that is completely changing the horse marketplace and bringing equestrians just a bit closer.
You can find more about the Sales Paddock app on the company website at, www.salespaddock.com
Ashley Culpepper graduated with a degree in Print Journalism and Two Minors in Ad / PR from Liberty University in 2013. Since then she has actively been using her media skills in a variety of realms including the horse world. Ashley is a major equestrian enthusiast with over 18 years of riding and training under her belt. When she isn’t working, Ashley loves to be at the barn with her AQHA gelding Bandit who she fox hunts and shows.