Saving the Bats with Innovative Start-up BatBnB – Ep. 60

About BatBnB:

Harrison Broadhurst & Chris Rännefors are Co-Founders of BatBNB, a highly innovative and unique start-up saving the bats.

If ever there was something or someone in need of a massive PR campaign, it’s bats. Bats and their role in our planet have been so profoundly misunderstood, and things have only gotten worse for them in recent years. My guests today created a start-up around bats that saw them succeed on Shark Tank, get big backing and create a highly successful company around something they are passionate about.

Full Audio Conversation:

BatBnB links

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EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS & RESEARCH sources:

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4:50 – “The market keeps trying to think of ways to combat mosquitoes, and all that really comes up with is… just pesticides, pesticides, pesticides.”

5:51 – “…when you think about entrepreneurs, you often think like, ’oh, they had this amazing light bulb idea and it just came to them in a flash and oh my gosh!” Then they just went for it and built in like, ‘oh, I wish I could have that lightning idea!’ I call bullshit on that.”

9:40 – “[My] mom was into conservation and taught middle school science. So yeah, so we just we we knew that we wanted to do something around those things that we were passionate about.”

10:23 – “We chose this idea [not] because we thought we were going to be multimillionaires off the bat house industry. We chose this because we really love this topic and we’re excited about the mission we were creating, and that just naturally led to what I think has been amazing success for the business.”

15:16 – “If you look at the folks who have gotten rabies from bats again, very, very few people. But most of them are some dummy who saw this sick bat on the ground and said, ‘Oh, I’m going to go over there and pick that thing up.’”

20:51 – “I think for BatBnB (and bat houses in general) that is offering them a roof during the spring, summer and fall period when they’re not hibernating. And those are those critical months, when they are having new pups, regrowing the population and they need a safe place to stay.”

27:19 – “We went with crowdfunding because it was a very low-risk pathway to the market.”

27:57 – “What we really focused on was from as soon as we got a napkin sketch, we started our Instagram, we started our website. Our website was just, ‘Hey, we’re trying to do something crazy with bats. Sign up here if you want to learn more.’ So by the time we launched our on crowdfunding, we had over 2,000 people who had given us their emails and said they were excited.”

30:48 – “It’s not a super crowded space, and we were kind of a new refreshing thing in the world of bats. I think we have great visuals and engaging content, and we were smart with how we did social media and contests and giveaways.”

38:50 – “…media accolades are awesome—they’re fantastic, they’re helpful. They give you a boost, but they’re never going to drive a business into the next stage.”

42:29 – “It is a portion of an overall strategy you can deploy for your home without using pesticides that can create a better natural option for you to reduce bug populations.”

45:39 – “We all know that kids are spending less and less time outdoors there on their screens all the time. How can we create fun content and products to encourage kids and families to just get outside and engage in their backyard?”

52:47 – “[Don’t be] afraid to say yes. Just committing to doing something has really… been a huge thing that I’ve learned through doing this this, you know, starting this business.”

BatBnB RESEARCH NOTES: 

Importance of bats

“Recent studies estimate that bats eat enough pests to save more than $1 billion per year in crop damage and pesticide costs in the United States corn industry alone. Across all agricultural production, consumption of insect pests by bats results in a savings of more than $3 billion per year. While many bats eat insects, others feed on nectar and provide critical pollination for a variety of plants like peaches, cloves, bananas and agaves. In fact, bats are the sole pollinator for the agave plant, a key ingredient in tequila!” 

Source: https://www.fws.gov/midwest/news/ImportanceOfBats.html

Cause of bat’s declining population 

“As bat populations continue to decline worldwide, their potential for extinction only grows. While some of the challenges they face are endemic to their order, such as their slow gestation periods and diseases like White-nose Syndrome, the primary cause of their decline is human -activity.”

Source: https://www.batcon.org/about-bats/bats-101/

Bats’ evil nemesis 

“Bats have an evil nemesis: white-nose syndrome.”

“This cold-loving fungus grows on U.S. bats while they hibernate, causing them to use up their body fat so they starve before the winter is over,” Rob Mies, executive director of the Michigan-based Organization for Bat Conservation, said.

“According to the Organization for Bat Conservation, white-nose syndrome has killed 5.7 million bats in the northeastern U.S. since 2006.”

Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/141031-bats-myths-vampires-animals-science-halloween

Written by Liz Langley

Unique

“Bats are the most unusual of the world’s 26 mammal orders, or large groups, such as rodents and carnivores. They are the only land mammals that navigate by echolocation, and the only mammals capable of true flight.”

Source: https://theconversation.com/its-wrong-to-blame-bats-for-the-coronavirus-epidemic-134300

Written by Peter Alagona

Bats as indicators of biodiversity 

“Despite their secretive nature, bats are believed to be excellent ecological indicators because they are sensitive to human-induced changes in climate and habitat quality (Jones et al. 2009). Bats are a diverse taxonomic group and their small size, high mobility, and wide distribution allow them to respond to disturbance in measurable ways.”

Source: https://www.nps.gov/articles/yellowstone-bats-important-indicator-ecosystem-health.htm

Authors: John J. Treanor, Joseph S. Johnson, Eli H. Lee, and Austin G. Waag

Statistics on transmission from bats

“Certainly bats, like humans and all other animals, serve as reservoirs for viruses. But in most of the world, including in Europe, the United States and Canada, rabies is the only proven threat from bats. Even sick bats rarely bite except in self-defense if handled, so transmission from bats is exceedingly rare: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just one or two human fatalities per year in the United States and Canada, and even fewer in most of the rest of the world.” 

Source: https://slate.com/technology/2017/05/why-you-shouldnt-be-so-scared-of-bats.html

Written by Merlin Tuttle 

Concern over bats as disease carriers

According to Dr Miles Carroll, Deputy Director and Head of Research & Development Institute of Public Health England: “Bats have gotten a really bad name because of the high profile pathogens that they do carry, such as Ebola, Rabies, Marburg, or Nipah, some of which can be deadly.” 

Source: https://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/news/communications-media/bats-bad-rap/

Written by Mia Rozenbaum 

Misconception

“Another misconception is the old adage, “blind as a bat”. While some bat species have eyesight that is relatively poor, no known species of bat is truly blind; even nocturnal species rely on changing light levels to discern when it’s time to become active. Other bats have such well-developed vision that they can detect color at night, making their vision much better than a human’s. Many bat species also “see with their ears” using highly sophisticated echolocation, enhanced in some species by prominences and structures on the ears and nose.”

Source: https://www.ohiohistory.org/learn/collections/natural-history/natural-history-blog/2015/october-2015/all-about-bats

Bats’ physiological  traits don’t increase the risk of viruses spilling over

“For instance, although bats are thought to accommodate many different viruses because of their immune systems, Streicker says these unique features don’t increase the risk of those viruses spilling over. “There weren’t single groups of animal hosts which were consistently elevating the risk that viruses posed to people,” he says.”

Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01096-z

Written by Clare Watson

Bats are not to blame

“While the bats must be studied, their physiology understood, and the viruses they harbor monitored for the sake of public health, that does not mean that the bats are to blame for the outbreak. As others have pointed out, humans have encroached on the lives of bats, not vice versa.”

“But their ability to coexist with viruses that can spill over to other animals, in particular humans, can have devastating consequences when we eat them, trade them in livestock markets and invade their territory.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/28/science/bats-coronavirus-Wuhan.html

Written by James Gorman

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