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Footwork leads the Seed round in the climate tech company enabling better weather forecasts.
Last year, weather- and climate-related disasters in the U.S. caused $175B in damages and 474 deaths. Those are staggering numbers, and unfortunately they’ve been increasing over the years, in the U.S. and around the world, due to increases in severe weather events as a result of our changing climate. This means that the need for accurate weather data is becoming more and more important to governments (which globally spend more than $10B annually on weather data to improve forecasts), businesses, and individuals, so that everyone can make better decisions based on the weather, and mitigate potential costs associated with severe events.
But how accurate are weather forecasts today? If you spend time in the weather app on your phone, you’ll probably notice that the predictions for weather in your area fluctuate quite a bit during some days, and certainly in the course of a week. It’s often hard to trust the weather forecast for a couple days away. And that’s because, while weather technology has improved since weather balloons started being used almost a century ago, with sensors on the ground, aircraft data, and satellites also used to gather weather observations today, there still remain many gaps in what we’re able to measure. According to the World Meteorological Organization, 85% of the Earth lacks adequate weather observations.
The team at WindBorne Systems has been working to gather weather observations to improve weather forecasts since the founders were students at Stanford University. Andrey Sushko, Joan Creus-Costa, John Dean, and Kai Marshland all worked together on the Stanford Student Space Initiative, where high-altitude balloons encompassed some of their research, and then came together to start WindBorne in 2019.
Since then, they’ve assembled a stellar team of 15 engineers and meteorologists, launched and flown hundreds of balloons, amassed customers across businesses and government agencies, generated millions in annual revenue (and were even cash-flow positive last year), and have shown the utility of their observations in weather forecasting models.
Today, we’re delighted to announce WindBorne’s $6M Seed round, led by Footwork, with Khosla Ventures, Pear VC, Ubiquity Ventures (read Sunil Nagaraj’s post here), Harvest Ventures, Humba Ventures, Jetstream, and Convective Capital participating. More on the round and company from Katie Fehrenbacher at Axios here.
What led to Footwork making this investment?
First, we believe that the climate crisis is the most important issue facing humanity today, and we’ve been searching for companies that are working on ways to mitigate its impact. Weather forecasting must improve so that many different types of people and organizations can make better decisions in our increasingly volatile climate.
Second, WindBorne struck us as a very unique company. Novel technology that leads to proprietary data. Delighted customers. Strong unit economics and capital efficiency. It feels to us like an outlier, and, at the end of the day, our job in venture capital is to spot and back outliers.
Third, every time we met with the WindBorne founders, we left feeling that we had to work with them. This is a team that’s working extremely hard to bring unique and detailed weather observations to its customers. They’re extraordinarily talented. And they’re on a mission to provide more accurate weather forecasts, and thereby reduce carbon emissions by half a gigaton.
If you’re as excited about WindBorne as we are, come join us.