Although weather is constantly evolving, the existing systems used to track it are not.
Currently, businesses rely largely on government data and old infrastructures to run their weather-related operations. For example, to measure rain, some companies turn to the “tipping rain bucket” which works as whimsical as it sounds (more here).
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Enter Madison, WI-based Understory which recently raised $5.25 million in a Series B, led by True Ventures. Other participants include Madison-based 4490 Ventures, a four minute walk from Understory, and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.
Understory uses sensors, installed every 2 to 3 miles around a certain area, to precisely track weather patterns for businesses. The company’s network uses atmospheric intelligence to understand what happens between the sensors, on a 50×50 network grid in real-time (see photo).
Weather impacts every business, Alex Kubicek, the co-founder and CEO of the company said. These companies need real-time and accurate data so they can prioritize resources during natural disasters, which homes are hit the worst by conditions like hail or rain, or to check soil conditions at certain farms during harvest times. It can even indicate air quality for someone in California after a wildfire.
“We don’t expect everyone to be a weather expert,” Kubicek told Crunchbase News.
The hyperlocal information, he said, equips people to make business decisions off of weather. Understory’s weather stations track 125,000 measurements a second. It measures precise hail, rainfall, temperature, humidity, wind and solar radiation, and air quality.
The infusion of cash brings the company’s total funding to $22.25 million. It help Understory expand internationally across various sectors such as agriculture, insurance, government and the environment.
Most recently, the company expanded to Argentina, where it helps with precision agriculture. They apply their data to track the overall health of various types of crops, and using artificial intelligence to enhance harvest time and irrigate appropriately.
Greg Robinson, the managing director of 4490 Ventures said its focus on underserved industrial parts of the country hopefully triggers widespread attention to these regions: “We’re trying actively to pull those coastal funds that honestly have more money than we do, into these places,” he said.
Kubicek relocated Understory from Madison to Boston and then back to Madison, and has since learned that “you don’t have to move your company to Boston in order to get funding now.”
The company’s sensors have only been live for four years, so in terms of tracking how fast weather is changing and the impact of climate change, there’s still more progress to be made, said Kubicek.
Ultimately, as weather continues to shift – the companies that track it will become an increasingly more important link for those stakeholders relying on accurate and timely information.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias