Understory Nabs $6.5M to Expand Network of Weather Tracking Stations
Understory operates networks of weather stations in the U.S. and other countries that can measure wind, temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, and various forms of precipitation. The company says the hardware and software it sells can help users better understand how weather events cause property damage. Part of the goal for Understory’s customers, which include insurers and farm owners, is analyzing data collected by the company’s stations to reduce costs.
Alex Kubicek, co-founder and CEO of Understory, declined to respond to questions on his company’s latest funding round, saying it has not yet been completed. The size of the round could climb to nearly $8.2 million, according to the filing.
Launched in 2012, Understory has raised more than $15.9 million in outside financing, SEC documents show.
Investment firms and corporate venture arms have signaled an interest in backing—and, in some cases, partnering with—startups seeking to improve methods for gathering and analyzing weather data. Last week, Boston-based ClimaCell raised $45 million in a Series B financing, and the participating investors including groups affiliated with Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) and JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ: JBLU). Another weather technology business that has raised venture capital is San Francisco-based Spire, which makes satellites that collect atmospheric information to forecast weather conditions.
Understory’s approach, by contrast, involves tracking weather from Earth’s surface. The startup’s solar-powered stations, which typically sit atop flat-roofed commercial buildings, each have a desk lamp-sized sensor mounted to a 10-foot pole. The stations are located about two miles apart in the metropolitan areas Understory serves, which include Dallas-Fort Worth, TX; Denver; Houston; Kansas City, MO; and St. Louis.
In February, Understory said it was partnering with Monsanto, a St. Louis-based agrochemical and seed manufacturer that is now a part of German company Bayer. Under the terms of the deal, Understory is installing 30 of its weather stations in fields in Argentina that grow Monsanto seeds for sale in South America. Monsanto’s investing arm, Monsanto Growth Ventures, co-led Understory’s $7.5 million Series A funding round in 2016.