Hold Your Horses! Building an IoT Startup with Jeffrey Schab, founder of Protequus

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In this episode of First Things First, I chat with Jeffrey Schab, co-founder of Protequus, an organization devoted to optimizing health-related outcomes and enhancing the well-being of horses. An accomplished equestrian and biomedical engineer, Jeffrey developed the first organization’s first device, a cellular-connected smart horse halter called NIGHTWATCH®. Inspired after the sudden loss of his horse ‘Snoop’ from colic, Jeffrey desired to help prevent the deadly gastrointestinal affliction that kills over 150 horses every day.

The Story:
An IoT Startup Saves the Lives of Some of Man’s True Best Friends

Jeffrey brings us a story of a biomedical engineer turned equine-entrepreneur taking the tumultuous journey of developing a connected product to save the world’s most treasured companions. But alongside those big goals were some significant challenges. Protequus partnered with Telit to develop the perfect solution and handle the obstacles along the way.

The Lesson:
Define the Meeting and Take the Meeting

Though not many listeners may be a part of the equestrian industry, the product development lessons learned are applicable across the board:

  • The first requirement in any IoT implementation journey is to define the problem – making sure to stick to that problem (and your resulting solution) during the development process. Don’t go off course! Don’t add features that nobody wants to use!
  • The second requirement is to be passionate about what you do. No matter what you think you can define are going to be obstacles, you will have only scratched the surface; and even then, passion is what will see you through those challenges.
  • Take the meeting. New problems will always present themselves; but if you keep the conversation flowing with partners, customers, suppliers, and the community at large… you will always find a solution that presents itself.

About Our Guest: Jeffrey R. Schab

Jeffrey R. Schab (Founder & CEO, Protequus®) is an accomplished equestrian and biomedical engineer who has a passion for horses and eye on innovation. Immediately following the sudden loss of one of his horses in 2013 from a rare colic event overnight, Jeffrey was driven to make a difference and assembled a team of passionate science and technology professionals to create a solution and combat the devastating impact of equine colic, which claims the lives of 60,000 horses each year in the US alone.

Reach out to Jeffrey via LinkedIn or email jrschab@protequus.com
Learn more about Protequus and their product NIGHTWATCH® First Things First Facebook First Things First LinkedIn First Things First Twitter

Show Notes

Don’t miss some of this episode’s memorable moments:

1:29 – Meet Jeffrey Schab, co-founder of Protequus, and learn more about what his experience leading up to this point.

4:10 – Learn about Jeffrey’s personal experience with his horse Snoop.

6:31 – We speak to Jeffrey’s excellent design for his product and the concept of “ADT security system for your horses health”.

11:28 – Learn how Jeffrey integrated impressive Machine Learning abilities on the edge and in the cloud to monitor the tell-tale symptoms of Colic in horses.

15:58 – Jeffrey tells us why he selected 3G and WiFi for connectivity in this lifesaving agribusiness application.

22:58 – Jeffrey explores his experience certifying his cellular-connected device, and some of the pitfalls and resulting solutions that he faced.

25:47 – Jeffrey speaks to the importance of industry partners in IoT

27:10 – Jeffrey gives users two key takeaways for people seeking to implement their own IoT deployment

29:30 – Where to find Protequus and Jeffrey Schab


“NIGHTWATCH® isn’t the brainchild of boardroom executives. NIGHTWATCH® is a labor of love.”

 “Part of the real-world reality is that we need to be able to parse information very, very quickly, at the point of care. We don’t have the luxury because of the demands of what that would mean to the batteries as well as continuous connectivity to take raw information and sent it to the cloud for computing.”

“I spent, and I’m not being facetious, over a year speaking with various certified labs to determine what role we play, what role they play, what’s the best test plan, so that we could build a device that would go through the system very smoothly. And to be very frank, there were more questions than there were answers.”

“When I started this process of evaluating what is the right regulatory path, I was not reaching out to our industry partners, such as Telit and others, as much as I should have. And when I finally smartened up and realized there was a tremendous brain trust there, it absolutely helped guide our path.”

“I absolutely encourage anybody who is looking to enter this space to treat your vendors not as vendors but as partners and ask the questions that you all have a mutual best interest to get an answer to.”

“Anybody entering the space needs to very clearly define the problem that they wish to solve for because it is becoming a very, very congested marketplace. And so, 1) solve a problem. Don’t be a noise maker. And 2) you’ve got to be passionate whatever you do because no matter what you think you can define are going to be the obstacles, you haven’t even scratched the surface to realize that. And it’s going to be your personal passion to allow you to persevere.”

“Always be willing to take a meeting. We’ve hit many roadblocks along the way. And whenever we think we can’t move forward, somehow, serendipitously, we take a meeting, we meet somebody, we network, and the solution presents itself.”

About Our Sponsor

First Things First is sponsored by Telit, a global provider of wireless connectivity modules, platforms, IoT operator services and professional services. Telit supports thousands of direct and indirect customers by enabling hundreds of millions of connected ‘things.’ With almost two decades of IoT innovation experience, Telit delivers secure, integrated end-to-end IoT solutions for many of the world’s largest brands, including enterprises, OEMs, system integrators, and service providers across industries.