How a first-time entrepreneur is connecting owners, stables and horse lovers
Horse racing and training is a $3.5 billion industry, so why are many trainers and owners stuck with outdated resources and a lack of connectivity? That’s the question central Ohio entrepreneur and self-described “horse girl” Chelsea Dexter asked herself. That question led to her launching The Rundown, a way to modernize management of the major investments people make in their horses.
“The Rundown is a racehorse and race stable management app for the trainers and owners as well as the employees at the barn,” said Dexter. “It’s about communication between all those parties. A trainer can log in and see information about training and owners can log in and see, ‘Oh, my horse is in training.’ You can see that your horse is doing an activity or qualified for a race and you can even pay or message trainers in the app.”
Dexter’s approach to creating The Rundown comes from a lifelong love of horses and horse management that she cultivated from central Ohio, mailing letters to Scioto Downs at 6 years old asking for a job. She eventually got her first horse, Quincy, and wants to help a new generation of riders and horse girls get into the sport by modernizing it and making it more appealing to people who have grown up with technology.
“I want to make horse racing a little more romantic for the next generation,” she said. “I want to make it so that racing is no longer your great granddad’s sport; you should be able to get into the sport as a 20- or 30-year-old. You shouldn’t have to look at a bunch of websites every day to find out what’s going on with your horse; you should have that information in the palm of your hand. That’s the legacy I want The Rundown to leave.”
The standard of communication and organization has always been the white board on the wall of a stable, which makes management from afar very difficult. The Rundown puts the horse at the center of the app, with profiles for trainers, owners and employees along with information as specific and updated as whether a horse ran with a cart on a certain day or when they’re scheduled for a vet appointment. A first-time entrepreneur, Dexter is a cancer survivor who was struck by the idea for The Rundown while undergoing treatment.
“My doctor came into the room and said, ‘Oh no, one of my horses died three weeks ago and I had no idea until just now,’ and that was really sad,” she said. “In the racehorse world, you as an individual don’t typically own just one horse. So him being a busy doctor and having multiple horses meant that it took a long time for him to find out. He had to go through five different sites for him to realize. I made the joke, ‘There should be an app for that,’ and that was the start of The Rundown.”
Ohio’s love of horse racing, from Cleveland to Central Ohio and beyond, helped pave the way for Dexter’s passion to become her business. And as the first-time founder got the company started, organizations like Big Kitty Labs and Rev1 helped her find her footing. Now, Dexter says she wouldn’t have started the app anywhere else, and credits the free-flowing advice and supportive community with getting her to where she is today.
“Ohio is a huge race state, so I was able to come up with my advisory board and mentors who are all Ohio-based and I wasn’t even trying to do that,” she said. “You have all different types of racing in Ohio, which helped with market valuations. From Scioto Downs to the Little Brown Jug and huge races in Cleveland, there’s passion for horse racing all over Ohio. And then I’ve had help from Big Kitty Labs and other mentors and advisors who always picked up their phone. I think the people in Ohio are so genuine and caring, especially in the startup scene.”