The Story of Pegasus

Pegasus Co-Founders Jen Tankel and Sam Baynes and Horse Show Dog, Chloe at the 2023 Maryland Five Star

Hi there partner,

Before the holiday break, we released our podcast with Kaelanne Quinonez. Only this time, our Pegasus founders were the ones in the interview seat.

With the upcoming launch of the event management system (which you can sign up for here), we couldn’t think of a better time to introduce the story of Pegasus and how we got to where we are today.

This special edition of The Oxer by Pegasus is exactly about that.

So if you want to know who we are and how we got our start, keep on reading.

If you’d rather listen to a podcast version of our story, this Oxer special edition is based on our podcast with Kaelanne. You can listen to that on any platform.

Before we go ahead, we just wanted to remind you that, as of February 1, 2024, we are exclusively going to publish The Oxer by Pegasus on LinkedIn. You can subscribe to the newsletter there via this link.


🔍 A Quick Rundown of Our Co-Founders

Jen and Sam, who are getting married in September, have had a love of business and entrepreneurship for most of their careers.

Before founding Pegasus, Jen was a civil engineer building intelligent transportation systems and then had a career pivot into business development for startups. Jen soon landed a role handling sales and accounts at PayByPhone, one of the top parking payment apps in the world.

Jen on her late thoroughbred mare, Impulsive. The pair competed up to the prelim level in eventing in 2008.

As for Sam, he’s a veteran of NATO member Australia’s armed forces and became an entrepreneur quickly after his move to the United States. He co-founded a successful global edu-tech company from Australia called WithYouWithMe and led their North American division from Washington.

At the time of this writing, WithYouWithMe has over 220 employees based around the world and has won many awards from publications, including but not limited to one of Australia’s top startups by LinkedIn and the fastest growing company in the Asia Pacific award by Deloitte.

Sam giving tech demos at the 2021 Equitana USA in Lexington, Kentucky

Sam is not an equestrian, but Jen is, and she’s an accomplished one. Like many equestrians when they approach college age, she had to choose what to do with her riding career.

I grew up in a riding household. My mom was a competitive hunter-jumper rider. Eventually, I got introduced to Pony Club and with [my pony] turned a 14.1 hand, super chubby pony that my mom bought for a dollar into this really great little eventing sport pony who I competed with for a few years.

Then I got an advanced-level event mare. That was a big transition and went up the ranks with her. Like everybody else, when you’re riding, you make this tough decision, which is, am I going to really keep going? Or am I going to make my parents happy and get a quote-unquote real job?

And unfortunately, and I guess fortunately, my horse made that decision for me because she had gotten bone chips in her knee right before I was supposed to go to school. So I ended up focusing on engineering, which I went to school for, worked in tech, and worked at startups.

Jen Tankel

 

The transformation to a sport pony: Jen in her early Pony Club days with her Arabian, “Z-Z Top”

 

🎪 Why Is Pegasus Tackling Event Management?

Jen and Sam were working on the original version of Pegasus for nearly two years before they turned it into a software platform for managing equestrian events.

The platform was a mix of Airbnb and Facebook for equestrians where users can connect, find, and book all things in the equestrian industry. For example, you could search “boarding barns in Middleburg, Virginia” and out would populate all of the nearby boarding barns where you could learn about their facilities and easily connect with the owner.

Vendoring at horse shows across the east coast in 2022

The duo was doing extensive market research to continuously incorporate features that the community wanted to see on the platform: a modern and efficient interface to not only find and book but to also chat with other riders, write blogs, and shop for equestrian-related products.

It was during this time that they kept hearing of the one true problem that they should’ve been focusing on all along: events.

Today, the equestrian world is still fragmented amongst many platforms for discovering and registering for events. There are plenty of platforms that show when and where events happened, but such sites are hard to use and are even harder to find unless you hear about them through word of mouth. They kept hearing anecdotes of clinics missed and poor registration experiences for those they did see.

Diving into these, Sam and Jen spent months with event organizers from various sizes, disciplines, and even in different states and countries to learn what it was like from their side. The front-end experience for the user clearly needed improvement, but they wanted to understand what it was like for those hosting and managing the events.

Meetings in Lexington, Kentucky

The unanimous feedback was that the legacy systems do not solve the headaches that all stakeholders have been experiencing; whether it be receiving complete paperwork and payment, ensuring who is SafeSport compliant, or simply notifying exhibitors of schedule times and ring changes. The dated systems they had been using were in desperate need of innovation.

And thus began the journey of creating the ultimate event experience – for all stakeholders involved in equestrian events: organizers, riders, trainers, brands who vendor and sponsor, horse show dads, and those new to the sport. In 2022, the do officially pivoted the company to focusing exclusively on innovation and building extraordinary features for equestrian events.

Enter Pegasus where it is today.

 

🗞️ Equestrian’s Media Space Is Still Not Matured

Sometimes it feels like the equestrian industry is ages behind when it comes to its media component. The situation on equestrian’s media space is best explained by Sam’s overview of it on the podcast.

The majority of the distribution channels available for young companies trying to market their product and get in front of equestrians is going to be the main publications…magazines.

And that’s an expensive thing to produce. You’ve got to hire journalists. They’ve got to sit down to write the articles, edit the articles, and then you need to basically print them, physically print them, and then you’ve got to distribute them.

And if you’re not getting enough readership and you’re not getting enough subscribers. Then you’re limited in your distribution. And that ultimately means that if you’re a young business that doesn’t have enough sales yet to be able to really spend on marketing and advertising, then you’ve got to pay 500 to a thousand dollars for a half-page ad in a magazine that you hope gets delivered to a house that potentially has a customer of yours in it.

And if it works, you won’t know. If it doesn’t work, you won’t know.

Sam Baynes

Sam’s analysis is based on the notion that media is an important distribution channel for a business to get its word out there. “Media” is a big word as there are so many different kinds of it. Yet in our space, media is dominated by older magazines that are distributed in print and online and, due to their print operations, cost a lot of money for a business to make an appearance on those magazines.

Pegasus co-founders on the Jon and Rick Show

When a business is just starting, it can’t afford $500 to spend on a newspaper appearance only to not know what the result of it is going to be.

Therefore, the current media space in equestrian is stifling entrepreneurship. Additionally, the current media space doesn’t talk enough about entrepreneurship in the equestrian industry.

That’s why Sam and Jen were bullish on the creation of The Pegasus Podcast and The Oxer by Pegasus, as there needs to be more public forums discussing the equestrian from a global business lens.

 

Thanks for reading about our founding story and thanks to Kaelanne for having the founders on as interviewees.


Here you can listen to the podcast that this interview was based on.

See you next time,

The Oxer by Pegasus

 

 

 

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About Us

Equestrian

Event Management System

We are the world leader in equestrian event management software.

We support equestrian events of all levels, from clinics through to licensed competitions, for both English and Western disciplines.

We can process payments and taxes for events in all countries.

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