In March, as California was still in the middle of its rainy season, a startup called Kettle was using machine learning to predict where wildfires might happen later in the year, mapped out in half-square-mile resolution across the state.
Out of thousands of larger 7-by-7 mile grids, the areas that the model predicted were most at risk of burning—the top 10%—11 out of 14 major fires later happened. (All 14 occurred in the areas that the model said were in the top 20% for risk.)
The company, which announced a $4.71 million round of funding on October 20, aims to help the insurance industry grapple with the increasing disasters caused by climate change. Cofounder Matt Lindeboom, a software engineer who worked in the Obama-era White House on open data for humanitarian response and later ran Ushahidi, a software platform for crisis response, had seen, firsthand, how critical insurance was to recovery.
“I just had this realization that insurance was really this very beautiful and elegant solution to protecting people from crises,” he says. “I got obsessed, but I hadn’t worked in insurance, I worked in tech.” He partnered with Andrew Engler, who had worked in the reinsurance industry, to […]