Creating safer industrial work environments
Today, we’re announcing our investment in Intenseye. We were first introduced to Sercan and Serhat by our friend and Venture Partner, Nathan Benaich who co-led the round with us with his firm, Air Street Capital. I wanted to take this opportunity to (start writing) share the backstory and the reasons for our investment in the company.
A company at the crossroad of many of our interests
Over the past 4–5 years at Point Nine, we’ve spent a considerable amount of time understanding and evaluating applied AI software businesses. My colleague Louis wrote a 3-part piece on the topic a couple of years back. As Louis explained back then: “applied AI solutions are companies differentiating themselves by developing end-user machine learning applications that are industry or category-specific, and not focusing merely on infrastructure.”
Since then, we’ve met many founders in this space and invested in several applied AI companies. In particular, we have taken a keen interest in computer vision. We started by investing at the infrastructure layer with SuperAnnotate (Louis shares more here). Until today, we hadn’t invested in an industry-specific applied AI company based on computer vision.
This brings me to Intenseye.
But before telling you what they do, let me dive into the (huge) problem they’re going after!
Workplace safety is a non-negotiable priority
As our former colleague Robin outlined in his post, there’s a revolution happening in the industrial enterprise space. Companies need to adapt at an accelerated pace to stay relevant. From the adoption of new hardware and software technologies, the automation of workflows and processes, and the need to leverage data for better decision making, a lot of change is happening across the industrial stack. At the same time, the promise of a fully automated factory is still far on the horizon. Shop floors are still filled with human workers, who themselves need to adapt to a constantly evolving workplace environment. The Netflix documentary, “American Factory” perfectly depicts this, I’d definitely recommend you to watch it.
As complexity increases inside factories and warehouses, there is an increasing need to protect workers from accidents, hazardous situations, and in some cases death. To ensure employee safety, industrial companies have put in place employee health and safety (EHS) teams that implement strict guidelines around what workers can (and cannot) do and what equipment they should use while conducting their work inside a facility. While EHS teams are responsible for making sure workers are compliant with such guidelines, tracking this for every single worker, 24/7 across multiple facilities is very difficult. Worse yet, compliance is currently being solved manually. EHS teams run inspection rounds every day to observe and question employees. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this task is literally impossible to reliably execute in a systematic way to not miss infringements. And the risk is huge: accidents and potentially loss of life. This creates substantial second-order effects for factory productivity, insurance premiums, and employer’s reputation.
In the US alone, there were approximately 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry in 2017. The cost of workplace injuries is a staggering $171 billion a year and growing fast. The US Department of Labor even has an agency called OSHA with a budget of half a billion dollars. OSHA partners with US States to provide 2,100 inspectors who are together responsible for the health and safety of 130 million workers in the country. This translates into one compliance officer for every 59,000 workers. Still, the agency conducts close to 100,000 inspections per year to make sure employers follow their guidelines for workplace safety.
EHS teams globally face pressure from top management as well as government organizations to do their jobs and prevent workplace accidents. To do so, EHS teams are equipped with a very scarce toolset. The only piece of software they use today are digital checklists that serve as a system of record for compliance management.
So, what solution could help EHS teams save more lives ;-) ?
Intenseye is an AI-first enterprise SaaS solution that connects existing IP-connected video cameras that are recording scenes from indoor industrial facilities. EHS teams can easily configure Intenseye’s computer vision capabilities, monitor the video feeds for infringements, and send alerts when they happen. EHS is now operationalised in computer vision software, not digital checklists.
The platform also compiles analytics on these infringements overtime to help EHS teams to track their core KPIs. With this new insight, EHS teams use Intenseye as a key workflow tool to diagnose where problems are, why they occur, and what training initiatives they can implement to improve day after day. You’ll find a few screenshots of their platform below:
With COVID-19, the Intenseye team worked day and night to help their customers in business and their employees safe. For example, they introduced a set of features to track social distancing, temperature checks and mask detection. Check them out below:
Why is Intenseye exciting?
- The creation of a new category: Intenseye is a 100x improvement to the way EHS track, diagnose and remediate incidents. The software provides a workflow tool that allows EHS teams to be more effective at solving issues they were unaware of before. The platform also enables collaboration across the organization as it enables alignment between EHS teams on site and operations teams in the HQ.
- A unique real world data set: The data collected by Intenseye isn’t available publicly and enables the company to build a strong moat. Each new use case they cover is another opportunity for data network effects to kick-in and customer trust in Intenseye’s reliability to compound. The additional data they collect as they grow the user base helps them improve the quality of the experience for the whole user base while creating additional barriers to entry.
- A 0 to 1 product experience: As Nathan at Air Street kept mentioning when we were looking into the opportunity, Intenseye has the characteristics of a cybersecurity product like Darktrace. Turn it on and you finally see everything that is happening. Turn Intenseye off and you’ll go back to a world where you don’t know what’s happening on your shop floor anymore — “I was blind, but now I see” is the killer aha effect their product provides to their customers. There is no reason to return to the old way of doing things.
- An incredible founding team to go after this opportunity: Sercan and Serhat met while building and delivering AI projects together at Sony with a focus on Asian manufacturing facilities. There they developed the insights they needed to start building Intenseye. Prior to joining Sony, Sercan and Serhat earned technical degrees from the renowned Bogazici University and Izmir Institute of Technology in Turkey, respectively.
From Istanbul to New York in a heartbeat
Although Serhat and Sercan started working on Intenseye from their home in Istanbul, they quickly made their way to New York City where the company is now based. We couldn’t be prouder to back Turkish entrepreneurs who have the hustle and drive to give their startup everything they’ve got.
At P9 we’re firm believers that category-defining SaaS companies can come from anywhere in the world and are happy to invest without meeting founding teams in person. That being said, we don’t shy away from it when it’s needed! ! It’s now about a year since Nathan and I flew to NYC (for 24h) to convince Sercan and Serhat to work with Point Nine and Air Street for the years to come. Since our investment, the team has grown from 2 to 20 and the company has become a talent magnet for top-notch engineering and AI talent in Istanbul. They’ve also gone from a couple of POCs (yes, an enterprise seed bet with no traction!) to being deployed in facilities across 30 cities around the world for leading global industrial groups and Fortune 500 companies.
Welcome to the P9 family, Sercan, Serhat, and the whole Intenseye team!