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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The Battalion May 4, 2024

Cyber cows: Aggie couple succeeds with cattle software

Former students Penny and Terrell Miller have found success combining two unlikely elements – cattle and computers.
The couple’s venture into business during their senior year at Texas A&M brought them a company, Cattlesoft, which provides software to cattle owners and a spot on the coveted Aggie 100, an organization that celebrates the fastest growing Aggie businesses in the world.
Cattlesoft is the only agricultural company that has been recognized in the Aggie 100.
In 1999, both were about to graduate from A&M, Penny with a degree in agricultural development (now agricultural leadership) and Terrell with a degree in information and operations management.
They wanted to graduate at the same time, but Penny was a year behind Terrell in course hours, so she opted for a way to accelerate her degree. This decision paved the way for their business.
“Penny decided to pursue an independent study so she could graduate in three years,” Terrell said.
Penny, who is from Hearne, wanted to find something she could do to enable her to live in the country. She was familiar with the cattle industry because her family was in the business.
“Penny’s family needed a way to keep track of their cows,” Terrell said.
The traditional record-keeping methods for cattle typically involve a pen, paper and many hours. People had to sort through stacks of papers to manage the records, Terrell said.
“There wasn’t a really good way to [keep records], which is how we came up with the software,” Terrell said.
The program, which they called CattleMax, is “cattle management software” that enables cattle farmers to organize and record data of their cattle in a simple, efficient way.
Terrell said that the software is written from Microsoft Access, a program he learned how to use in his info classes.
Penny and Terrell said they showed their program to a few people who worked with cattle and needed help managing records and received positive feedback.
The couple’s first customer, Jim Howell, a ranch manager for Hilliard Ranches, was pleasantly surprised when he used the software.
“We were working with a professor at A&M, who told us about this program that Penny and Terrell had developed,” Howell said.
“I took all of my [record] books to Penny and Terrell, and told them that we wanted all of this stored on a computer,” Howell said. “I didn’t know much about computers, but Penny and Terrell created a really simple, near fool-proof cow program.”
In response to the good reviews, the couple decided to jumpstart their software into a business.
“We first started to advertise in local farm and ranch magazines, then we started advertising nationally,” Terrell said. “We also got online, which helped the company grow the most, and we do a lot of our marketing online now.”
Since its start nine years ago, CattleSoft has quickly made it into thousands of customers’ computers.
The company’s largest markets are in Texas and Oklahoma where there are the most cattle, but the company reaches to all parts of the country.
“We have customers in all 50 states and over 30 countries,” Terrell said.
Since the initial product, different variations of CattleMax have been produced, as well as LonghornMax, that deals specifically with longhorns, and EquineMax, for horse owners.
Despite the growth of the company, Penny and Terrell are still the active participants in day-to-day business operations.
Much of their time is spent communicating with representatives and marketing.
“We work on education and online workshops, teaching people how to use the product,” Penny said. “We have customers from such a broad area, so we like if people can feel connected through our training workshops.”
Howell said when he was first using the software, the Millers were helpful in guiding him how to use it.
“I called them so much at the beginning when I was learning the program, and they always were helpful and have stayed personally involved,” Howell said.
In addition to marketing and education, the Millers said they coordinate with special customers, and work in conjunction with professors at A&M.
“No day is the same for us,” Terrell said.
Operating their own business has brought the couple some nice flexibility.
“Some strategies of businesses is rapid growth, but for us, it’s all about our lifestyle,” Terrell said. “Finding a balance between growth, achievement and lifestyle is important.”
In the first years of business, life was less flexible, because both were still in school, pursuing their master’s degrees.
“Money was tight for the first two and three years, but we really believed in what we were doing,” Terrell said.
The Millers encourage college students to venture out and gain experience.
“Consider starting your own business on the side,” Terrell said. “Pursue experience, and don’t be afraid to fail, because that is when you learn the most.”
The Miller’s took a chance that in starting their own business, and it has benefited them not only financially, but personally, because they have been able to maintain values that are important to them, including interaction with people.
Howell said that working with the Miller’s through the years has been nice, because they make sure to stay in touch customers.
“As they make changes to their products, they always stay connected to the people (customers),” Howell said. “They have always been people oriented, and I am very proud of them.”
The Miller’s said they want to continue educating producers on the importance of cattle management, and to help people succeed.
The Millers have created a prosperous Aggie owned business with thousands of customers across the country and around the world, while pursuing their passions.
“It’s all about doing something you enjoy,” Terrell said.

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