Why we invested in Protex AI | by Henrik Wetter Sanchez

Protex AI has raised $18m from Notion, Playfair, Firstminute, Elkstone and Y Combinator to empower well being and security groups and shield staff with AI-powered know-how.

How it began

Dan Hobbs and Ciarán O’Mara, CEO and CTO of Protex AI, approached us by way of our web site’s open pitch type in April 2021 and had been additionally related by our former analyst Jeremy Luzinda (thanks Jez!).

As an investor, I take a dozen pitches each week (~600 yearly), and this can be very uncommon that I go away that first name with an unequivocal feeling that I have to be a part of this firm’s journey, no matter it takes. My name in April 2021 with Dan and Ciarán was a type of fortunate ones and we didn’t look again.

Why well being and security

The know-how utilized by folks working in ports, factories and warehouses has advanced quickly in recent times, however the processes and know-how defending staff in these industrial settings has barely modified in a long time. Well being and security is a sluggish, human-led technique of office inspections and behavioural audits, whose intermittent nature means main issues of safety and hazards are sometimes missed. Expertise that can be utilized to trace and log the frequency and nature of accidents has been round for some time, but it surely too is reactive. Accidents must occur, or almost occur, earlier than steps are taken to stop them. Consequently, greater than 5,000 folks had been killed in office accidents within the US alone in 2021. As extra staff work alongside automated machines, the potential for accidents is rising.

We preferred how the Protex AI crew summed up the state of the well being and security business on this slide from their unique pitch deck.

Alongside the tragedy of misplaced lives and accidents, accidents trigger monumental monetary and reputational ramifications for companies. A Nationwide Security Council mannequin places the common office fatalities price at $1.42mn. US firms pay out $62bn per yr for office accidents, based on EHSToday.

The calls for for protected workplaces are at an all time excessive, for a number of causes. Persons are turning into more and more conscious of issues of safety, so legal guidelines defending them are anticipated to be developed additional. The US and Europe have already handed stringent rules in recent times. And as extra industries undertake automated robotic applied sciences, people and machines are working extra intently than ever earlier than, creating elevated security dangers. In mild of all this, the worldwide surroundings well being and security (EHS) market measurement is predicted to achieve $88.39bn by 2027, rising at a CAGR of 6.9% (Grand View Analysis).

So, to summarise: many hundreds of individuals are nonetheless dying or being injured at work. Employees, unions, and lawmakers are calling for larger protections. When accidents do, tragically, happen, firms face big monetary and reputational repercussions. And the one method firms at current have to stop these accidents is with extra inspections, extra audits — extra folks on warehouse and manufacturing unit flooring who then are additionally in danger.

That is why we see well being and security as such an thrilling whitespace. If laptop imaginative and prescient and edge computing know-how may help allow a shift from reactive to proactive well being and security decision-making, extra office accidents might grow to be preventable, and the prices — human, monetary and reputational — avoidable.

Protex AI’s resolution

Dan and Ciaran’s AI-based laptop imaginative and prescient know-how platform spots potential accidents in industrial settings earlier than they occur and permits EHS groups to adapt their processes and tradition to scale back future points.

Their software program plugs into CCTV methods to detect and map folks, PPE, autos and extra. It then measures how they work together with one another, and determines whether or not the interactions are protected or unsafe primarily based on pre-configured security guidelines.

This knowledge is mixed with a facility’s different knowledge inputs to supply stories and analytics for well being and security groups to make use of to enhance security behaviours and stop accidents within the rapid future.

Our funding thesis

Past the thrilling whitespace alternative within the well being and security market outlined above, our funding thesis is constructed round three core pillars:

The crew

Ciarán and Dan are two passionate and intensely sensible founders with the drive to construct a startup from the bottom up. They complement one another brilliantly and we’re delighted to be working with them. In some ways they jogged my memory of when I first met the Recycleye founders in 2019Victor and Peter — and learnings from that funding had been essential to us partnering collectively.

Dan, CEO, is a pure entrepreneur, who has already based and exited a enterprise that he began at college. He studied enterprise at Trinity School Dublin, received a Younger Scientist competitors award and was named BT’s younger businessman when he was simply 17.

Ciarán, CTO, is an distinctive and charismatic technical founder who deeply understands the issue Protex AI is making an attempt to resolve, the know-how stack he must construct, and the place he needs to take the product sooner or later to maintain the corporate forward of the sport. He has a primary in digital and laptop engineering from the College of Limerick and has already labored at three startups with embedded laptop imaginative and prescient merchandise previous to founding Protex.

The tech

The energy of this product lies in its end-to-end platform, underpinned by robust know-how. Mark Lawless, operations supervisor at Doyle Delivery Group, Eire’s main delivery & logistics firm, makes use of the platform and has stated that Protex AI can spot ten to twenty instances extra incidents than the human eye — and that if it could forestall a loss of life it could be “priceless”.

Along with that, Protex AI are constructing their resolution on the sting, somewhat than within the cloud, a key strategic technological choice. Knowledge is processed as near the supply as attainable, which suggests greater accuracy, privateness, decrease prices, decrease bandwidth necessities and guarded IP. We predict this provides Protex AI a aggressive benefit as no different present participant applies non-cloud-based know-how to detecting hazards.

The paradigm-shifting potential

There are two alternatives right here. First, as we’ve lined above, Protex AI’s product shifts well being and security tech from being reactive to proactive. Secondly, and consequently, it could flip well being and security from a value centre to a revenue centre for firms by dramatically lowering and even eliminating accidents and fatalities on work websites. The ensuing insurance coverage and regulatory prices can run into the tens of millions for a corporation in a single yr.

What’s subsequent?

Immediately, Protex AI is a crew of 18 folks serving to enterprise EHS groups to revolutionise how they make proactive security selections that assist contribute to a safer work surroundings. Their AI-powered know-how is enabling companies to realize larger visibility of unsafe behaviours of their amenities. The privacy-preserving platform plugs into current CCTV infrastructure and makes use of its laptop imaginative and prescient applied sciences to seize unsafe occasions autonomously in settings corresponding to warehouses, manufacturing amenities and ports.

The longer term is focussed on three core pillars:

  1. Rising in core markets geographically (UK/IRL, North America, mainland Europe) and by business (logistics, retail & warehousing, manufacturing, ports & maritime and waste administration)
  2. Growing new and current partnerships within the EHS tech area
  3. Rising the distinctive crew, all throughout the enterprise

A private observe

Dan and Ciarán have all the time stated to me they’ve many VCs on their cap desk and one therapist. I’m undoubtedly not medically certified, however I do see my position as an investor on the pre-seed and seed phases to be a lot nearer to the human facet of constructing an organization. Publicly all of us usually solely speak in regards to the highs, however there are lots of lows alongside the way in which that have to be mentioned and labored by. From my expertise, having an in depth and deep sufficient of a private relationship with founders is important to have the ability to elevate these challenges and discover options collectively.

I really feel very fortunate to have the ability to name these two guys buddies in addition to portfolio founders. What they’ve achieved in lower than 18 months since we first met has confirmed how briskly you possibly can construct options to issues the world desperately wants and how briskly you possibly can carry different folks alongside together with your imaginative and prescient of how the world ought to actually look. I can’t await the various extra years forward.

. . .

In case you’re a enterprise seeking to enhance your well being and security practices, you possibly can attain out to the Protex crew instantly right here: data@protex.ai

In case you’re a founder on the very earliest phases of constructing your organization, I’d love to fulfill to debate and brainstorm your imaginative and prescient for the world. You will discover me on LinkedIn right here or pitch the broader crew at Playfair right here.

You possibly can observe the Playfair crew on LinkedIn, Twitter, Forbes, Vimeo and right here on Medium.

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