Between winning the 2019 Innovation Showcase at the Animal Health Investment forum in London, participating in the SAP.iO Foundry New York and running his Silicon Valley-based company, the year has been off to a flying start.
Guloy always knew he wanted a career in sustainability. A first-generation Filipino-American, he followed in his father’s footsteps and graduated with a degree in inorganic and material chemistry from Northwestern University, eventually joining the pharmaceutical industry.
His personal experience of the gaps in animal healthcare spurred his entrepreneurial instincts. It started with Sir Francis Drake, Guloy’s beloved Schnauzer-Yorkie.
“My dog was very unwell, and it took a while to figure out what was wrong with him,” Guloy explains. “It was through that experience that I realized that veterinary medicine is still very opaque and to some extent is somewhat more of an art than a precise science.”
With the goal of creating a health management platform for companion animals and pets, Guloy founded Rex. But as he delved deeper, he realized the application for such technology could in fact be much broader, particularly in livestock farming: “I have seen food insecurity due to a lack of biosecurity in livestock when it comes to disease management, and with the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance from livestock to human health, I wanted to focus on this.”
Animal health is a growing sector. Estimates suggest that by 2026, market size is expected to reach $69 billion. Yet when it comes to disease research and management, the industry has not seen much technological progress, especially in the livestock farming sector. Vast amounts of genetic and health data are collected in farms across the supply chain, often on paper, but it is not being used extensively for health optimization and precision medicine.
Recognizing these structural issues within the industry, Rex’s platform has a three-pronged approach, bringing transparency to the protein supply chain and connecting research and development (R&D) with the end-consumer experience:
- Paper records are converted in to digital data sets through optical character recognition (OCR)
- Data sets from different sources are harmonized
- Machine learning algorithms developed by Rex are applied to the data to help predict, prevent, and precisely manage diseases in the herd
Since its founding in 2015, Rex has been piloted by 23 enterprise customers at a few thousand farm sites across the U.S., South America, and Southeast Asia, and the success stories have been incredible.
“The most exciting story we’ve had is in poultry,” says Guloy. “A company was losing chickens by the hundreds of thousands. What they thought was an antibiotic resistance issue turned out to be a genetic deficiency, which was then alleviated with a nutritional feed additive. This would not have been possible without being able to bring the health, feed, and genetic data of these animals together in one place.”
To further scale this growth, Guloy joined the SAP.iO Foundry New York in January 2019. Rex is one of eight startups participating in the accelerator program for early-stage enterprise tech companies. The current Winter 2019 Cohort is focused on companies building solutions that incorporate business beyond bias or drive sustainability.
Working closely with executive mentors and the industry team from SAP, Guloy is already thinking about expanding Rex’s functionalities: “The original plan when we applied to SAP.iO Foundries was to learn how we can take our data solution and be of use more downstream in the food supply chain. However, we’ve discovered really interesting opportunities in moving upstream, particularly at the interface of plants and livestock by understanding how the genetics of plants can affect production in livestock. It’s taking us further upstream, but really gives us an opportunity to be a farm to metabolism company.”
Looking forward to the rest of the program, Guloy says, “We are focused on increasing our customer footprint and developing more analytics modules with the help of SAP. There’s going to be a lot more exciting news as we move forward.”
He is also particularly excited about demo day on April 24: “Based on the discussions we have had, we are looking at rebranding to Rex Ag Labs.”