Understory secures $7.5 million to power global expansion of weather sensor network and boost presence in the international agriculture market
Understory, a Madison, Wisconsin-based weather infrastructure and analytics startup company with real-time tools to collect weather data that power business decisions, has raised $7.5 million in additional funding to expand it international presence in the agriculture market with ground-truth, actionable weather data. The funding was led by by 4490 Ventures with participation from a new investor, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, the DC-based investment firm founded by former CEO of AOL, Steve Case. The new funding will also be used to expand Understory’s presence in the international agriculture market.
Founded in 2012 by Alex Kubicek, Alexander Jacobs, and Bryan Dow, Understory develops smart weather station micro-grids that collect tactical weather data and analytics for extreme weather events. It detects rain, hail, wind and other weather events directly at the earth’s surface, where the risk to life and property is greatest. Understory builds and operates weather networks that are comprised of patented RTi weather stations, which are full-stack, rugged, tamper-proof, maintenance-free, precision weather solutions. The stations measure at 50,000 times a second and power a cloud-based artificial intelligence core that stiches the measurements together to provide an unprecedented understanding of weather events.
These weather networks have completely wireless data transmission and provide research grade hail, wind, rainfall, temperature, humidity, evapotranspiration, and growing degree unit accuracy at a fraction of the cost of any other solution on the market. Understory’s technology has been perfected for worldwide deployment and is posed to radically change the way weather is understood globally. The applications for Understory’s infrastructure and analytics are enormous, as $485 billion of the U.S. economy fluctuates with the weather annually.
“Understory is powering innovation in weather data infrastructure with its sensor networks and on-the-ground insights,” said Steve Case, Chairman and CEO of Revolution. Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund invests in high-growth companies that, like Understory, are scaling outside of the coastal tech hubs. “We look forward to seeing how Understory continues to leverage regional expertise and talent to redefine real-time weather information for insurance, agriculture, academics, utility companies, and more,” Case added.
The injection of venture capital comes on the heels of Understory’s recent expansion into South America in partnership with Bayer (through the former Monsanto), being named as one of Forbes’ 25 Most Innovative AgTech Startups in 2018, and their co-founder and VP of Engineering being named as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 within Manufacturing.
“Understory represents innovation at its finest,” said Greg Robinson, managing director at 4490 Ventures. “The technology developed by Understory has real potential to redefine multi-billion dollar markets while empowering environmental efficiencies that impact our global food supply. That’s a winning combination we are proud to be investing in over the long-term.”
Understory has deployed more than 500 stations throughout five major metropolitan areas in the U.S. and plans to expand nationally to 5,000 sensors by the end of 2019. Its international presence was kicked off through a partnership with Monsanto, now Bayer, to deploy weather stations in South America to measure rainfall, temperature, humidity, evapotranspiration (moisture leaving plant), and growing degree units (where a plant is in its lifecycle to determine best harvesting time), to inform decisions around irrigation, harvest dates and times, and seed production.
“We at Bayer have seen the value that Understory provides to growers, using technology that adds a layer of hyper-local weather information in rural farming areas where local weather information is not as accurate,” said interim head of Bayer Growth Ventures Jürgen Eckhardt. “We are eager to see how the company’s expansion can further enrich localized weather insights.”
With patented technology, Understory can provide the agriculture market with actionable information that radar, satellite, and other remote sensing technologies cannot deliver.
“This funding represents another step forward towards realizing our goal of disrupting the status quo when it comes to weather analysis,” said Alex Kubicek, Co-founder and CEO of Understory. “It has taken a number of years and a lot of dedication from our team, but Understory is now positioned to truly enable a fundamental shift in how the insurance and agriculture industries utilize data to make informed weather-related decisions.”