Deep-Learning Powered Kettle Launches to Protect People From the Exacerbated Effects of Climate Change, Starting with Wildfires
Company Raises $4.71 Million Seed Round Led by True Ventures
Kettle, the reinsurance startup that uses advanced deep learning to better protect people from the growing risks associated with climate change, such as California’s wildfires, announced its seed financing round. The $4.71 million round was led by True Ventures, with participation from Acrew Capital, Homebrew Ventures, Anthemis, and Inspired Capital.
Kettle is targeting the $300 billion-a-year reinsurance industry, starting with California wildfires. “Reinsurance” is an additional layer of insurance for insurance carriers that covers catastrophic events such as hurricanes or wildfires. The industry has seen a 68 percent drop in return on equity due to a 3X increase in catastrophes causing more than $1 billion in damage over the past 15 years. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2019 was the fifth consecutive year in which 10 separate $1 billion catastrophes hit the United States.
Founded by Andrew Engler and Nathaniel Manning, Kettle is structured as a reinsurance company that can underwrite these increasing risks. Engler has more than a decade of experience working in the insurance and reinsurance industries, most recently as the vice president of digital at the public reinsurer, Argo Group. Manning spent years working with data for humanitarian effotts as the CEO of Ushahidi, the largest open source software platform for community crisis response, and as the first chief data officer of USAID.
“I’ve spent years building software to enable people to get help in the aftermath of a crisis,” said Manning. “But I noticed it was the insurance companies who were providing the financial safety nets to help these communities rebuild. That’s why we founded Kettle, to make an impact.”
“Reinsurance is the last stop against climate change,” said Engler. “It’s the safety net below the safety net. It is a moral imperative that we improve this industry to protect people from the increasing disasters caused by climate change.”
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Kettle’s first product is focused on California wildfires, which have grown rampant over the past five years. So far in 2020, the largest fourteen wildfires have destroyed more than three and half million acres in California. Leveraging a form of machine learning called swarm intelligence, Kettle’s model predicted all fourteen of these fires were in the top 20 percent of areas most likely to burn across California’s hundred plus million acres.
Kettle’s technology and proprietary algorithms use terabytes of data from public and private data sources, such as NOAA weather data and NASA’s MODIS and LIDAR satellites. Kettle’s neural networks run upward of 140 million model parameters to calculate probabilities of fire damage at the half square mile resolution across the state.
“We like to invest in companies that use technology to improve the world,” said Adam D’Augelli, partner at True Ventures. “Reinsurance for climate-related events is an increasingly vital part of the insurance market and will continue to be. We’re thrilled to support mission-driven founders like Andrew (Engler) and Nathaniel (Manning) who are using software to tackle big and important problems.”
“In 2020, all of us across the world understand that catastrophic risks are possible and likely — and have detrimental effects,” added Manning “Kettle is about marrying the powers of human cooperation with machine intelligence to better protect people and society from these catastrophes.”