Why we invested in Protex

Article by Kamil Mieczakowski and Melissa Donohoe

At Notion Capital, we’ve long been looking at technologies that serve frontline workers and have made various investments in such companies over the years, including Flip and HeyJobs. While the 2.7bn frontline employees represent 80% of the workforce, only 1% of the $300bn in annual software venture funding goes to solutions that serve this part of the workforce [1]. We’re convinced that, over time, many unicorns will be created in the deskless worker space, as have historically been created in the white-collar markets. As machine vision is starting to climb Gartner’s proverbial Slope of Enlightenment, we’re thrilled to announce our investment in another company serving deskless workers: Protex AI

Today we’re leading Protex’s $18m Series A round alongside the existing investors Playfair, Firstminute and Elkstone, with the strategic investment from SCOR, as well as a host of well-known angels including Ryan Petersen, the Founder of Flexport.

Protex is a computer vision software company which provides a proactive safety solution that continuously monitors the workplace, ensuring the safety of all employees. The company does it by integrating into the existing CCTV infrastructure, making the deployment very easy. Once connected, it lets teams continuously build and audit (in real-time) their safety procedures, capture dangerous situations before they escalate and build a company-wide culture around safety. The data is processed on edge, eliminating security concerns for large enterprise customers.

The problem that Protex is solving is a vast one with broad implications. An estimated $62bn per year is paid out in the US alone for workplace injuries, not to mention the cost associated with site closures, employee retention and reputational concerns. The incentive is enormous for many companies to improve their safety culture, including manufacturers, warehouse operators, and waste management facilities. During our research, we estimated the market to be worth over $10bn with millions of sites that could benefit from Protex’s technology.

Apart from reducing the number of incidents, we believe Protex can drive various other benefits for the enterprise. As the commercial insurance premiums continue to rise [2], we believe that solutions such as Protex can prove the improving risk profile of the business that, in consequence, could lower the cost of premiums by providing new types of data into the actuarial models. That’s why we’re excited to welcome SCOR, one of the world’s largest re-insurers, as investors in Series A. 

The Protex team is exceptional, with a high degree of founder-market fit. CEO, Dan Hobbs, has previously exited a business in the EdTech space. He’s an expert in taking software solutions to market, especially via partnership channels, and has already established numerous partnerships for the company in Europe and the US. CTO, Ciarán O’Mara, initially started prototyping Protex while completing a PhD in Computer Vision at the University of Limerick. Ciarán is uniquely positioned to tap into Ireland’s top machine vision talent, and he’s already managed to hire some of the brightest minds in AI, to help him deliver the ambitious product vision. 

We’re very excited to announce our investment in Protex and to start working with Dan, Ciaran and the team. We firmly believe they can quickly become a market leader in this newly emerging category of proactive safety. 

Why Notion? A note from the Founders…

Dan Hobbs, CEO: "Notion were brilliant from the get go! Their enthusiasm for what we are building and the market research that they did made our decision easy. We're looking forward to having them on our journey with us!"
Ciarán O’Mara, CTO: "Notion took the time to deeply understand both the problem and the solution we were building. They were fair and transparent in every interaction we had with them both before and during the closing process. We could instantly see ourselves working with both Kam and Melissa as well as the added value of a dedicated platform team."

[1] Emergence Capital Report, link, last accessed: 30 August 2022

[2] Global commercial insurance rates continue to moderate as pricing is up 13% in the fourth quarter of 2021, link, last accessed: 30 August 2022

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