Understory: Raises $7.5M from 4490 Ventures and Monsanto Growth Ventures to expand Ground-Truth Weather Data Network

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Susan Roberts
For Understory
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Company leads next-generation of weather accuracy for insurance, agriculture, and utility markets

BOSTON, MA, February 18, 2016 – Understory, the developer of the next-generation of weather sensor hardware and hyper-local data networks, announced today that it has received $7.5 million in Series A funding led by 4490 Ventures, an early stage venture fund based in Madison, Wisconsin, and Monsanto Growth Ventures, the venture capital arm of Monsanto, a Fortune 500 sustainable agriculture company. Understory will be relocating its headquarters to Madison, Wisconsin, while maintaining an ongoing and significant presence in Boston.

Earlier investors also contributed to the round, including True Ventures, RRE Ventures, and SK Ventures. Another Wisconsin-based firm, CSA Partners, also joined the round as a new investor. As part of True Ventures’ ongoing support, Puneet Argarwal, will join the Understory Board of Directors. 4490 Ventures Managing Director, Greg Robinson, will also be joining the board.

The Understory weather-sensing networks are currently deployed in Kansas City, Boston, and Dallas. Additional cities will be announced in the near term. The networks have already demonstrated a high level of performance having tracked several major storm systems- where they detected tornadoes, strong wind events, and hail on a hyper-local level. Understory plans on deploying their network in more cities in 2016.

Why ground-truth weather detection?

While traditional, radar-enabled weather centers collect data by analyzing conditions observed in the atmosphere, Understory— named for the area in a rainforest beneath the forest canopy— detects rain, hail, wind and other weather events directly at the earth’s surface, where the risk to life and property is greatest. This ground-truth-based detection is a marked enhancement in both resolution and fidelity, providing real time datasets and graphical views of the movement and intensity of weather events, which leads to better insight and early detection of risks.

For example, Understory’s ground-truth weather networks allow insurers to create a better experience for policyholders by creating real time, hyper-local weather reports and weather intelligence in the immediate aftermath of a storm. These address-specific insights enable insurers to better serve and communicate quickly with their policyholders.

Monsanto invests in supporting farmers by offering unique options in the way they manage risk on farms – including weather, which is the single biggest risk farmers face on an annual basis.

Supporting quotes

“Climate change has become more and more palpable as extreme weather has increased in both frequency and severity. Currently, weather impacts billions of dollars of business activity across nearly every aspect of the U.S. economy,” said Understory founder and CEO Alex Kubicek. “The northeastern United States alone has seen a 74 percent increase in the amount of rain or snow falling in the heaviest storms since 1958.”

“We are excited about the Understory leadership team and about the implications of Understory’s transformative new data set and how it can create value for a wide range of users or use cases,” said Greg Robinson, the Managing Director of 4490 Ventures. “It is great to bring Understory back to Wisconsin, where the company was founded.”

“Monsanto is deeply committed to supporting small companies who are working on technologies that could be used to augment the grower’s ability to better manage their farms. Hyper-local weather measurements are a key part of this innovation stack,” stated Kiersten Stead, Monsanto Growth Ventures. “We are building off our acquisition of The Climate Corporation, who are truly committed to offering stronger analytics for the agriculture industry.”

“I am delighted to be strengthening our investment in Understory and joining their Board,” stated Puneet Argarwal, True Ventures. “The value of ground-truth weather detection is increasingly vital to insurers, farmers, consumers, and others as the intensity and frequency of severe weather increases.”

About Understory
Founded in 2012, Understory is a weather data company that provides dense surface observations generated by proprietary weather stations with no external moving parts. This composite of granular weather data has applications across a variety of markets, including broadcasting, insurance, agriculture, forecasting, and risk mitigation. The information collected by Understory is analyzed and processed to create real-time datasets, views, and actionable information from historical, current, and forecasted weather events to provide better insight and early detection of risks.

The data applications for Understory’s sensors are enormous, as $485 billion of the U.S. economy fluctuates with weather. This new, sensor-enabled big data will impact insurance, agriculture, utilities, and many other industries.

More information on Understory is available at http://www.Understoryweather.com.