Understory: A Step Ahead in Anticipating the Storm Before the Calm
Hiking for a day. Camping for the weekend. Sun-soaking at the beach. No matter your favorite outdoor adventure, nothing can spoil it quite like bad weather. Inspired by his personal experiences, especially the bad and unpredictable, Alex Kubicek made it his mission to never let another day of outdoor planning be spoiled by the weather’s mood.
Not just the weather itself, Alex had always nurtured a fascination with climate change and everything revolving around it. Never once desiring to be caught unprepared or uninformed, weather-obsessed Alex created an innovative and informative platform that predicts much more than your everyday weather forecast.
Understory used to be the underdog of weather apps and platforms. But, thanks to Alex’s brilliant mind, it grew into an all-in-one weather analysis brand that takes a special interest in weather-affected jobs and the financial toll bad forecast prognosis takes on the economy.
With years of expertise, Alex’s contribution to society and Earth - Understory - readjusts the global perception of weather, climate, and the environment as a whole.
A Weather Enthusiast
Spending most of his childhood outdoor, especially back at his parents’ house in East Troy on Lake Beulah, Alex instilled in himself a passion for predicting the weather conditions from a young age.
Although he has been a huge weather geek for most of his adult life, Alex was doubtful that a future in weather forecasting will turn out to be fruitful. Then, one day, Alex discovered the power of weather via a raw and unforgettable moment.
It all started in 2005 when Alex was watching the news from home, devastated by the damage done by Hurricane Katrina in Southern Louisiana. A year and a half later, Alex and about 50 of his colleagues, all from the University of Wisconsin, took a bus to New Orleans to volunteer within the community and contribute in any way they could. The team spent more than a week on-site, in an attempt to help families get back on their feet and save as many homes as possible from being bulldozed.
Being a witness to this catastrophe, Alex felt both saddened and shocked by the devastation around him. At the same time, he wondered how people could be so uninformed on the weather and its cruelty to lose their homes, jobs and in many cases, lives.
Understanding the educational gap in the system, Alex decided to roll his sleeves and get down to businesses, ultimately developing a weather platform that would never catch humankind by surprise again.
Developing the Idea
This ordinary Wisconsin-guy couldn’t stay still after volunteering to help the victims of the Louisiana storm. The catastrophe affected Alex so extensively that he began contemplating functional strategies, especially in predicting the weather better than other apps did.
Alex couldn’t easily accept the fact that people were living in the most sophisticated and innovative age of technological advancement, but were still impacted by raging storms, tornadoes, hail, wildfires, and floods. He next began to research atmospheric science and cloud microphysics on a deeper level.
Instead of improving storm forecasting, Alex soon realized there were huge observation gaps in the existing data collected for weather conditions and storms. The satellites and radars were there, yet still unable to properly measure happenings on the ground, which is exactly what inspired Alex to put capturing of on-the-ground data as a priority in creating Understory.
With a will to reinvent and boost disaster safety, Alex took to educating himself and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering, both in 2010 and at the University of Wisconsin. Among other educational achievements, Alex also scored a Master of Science degree in Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences from the same university.
The main idea of building weather stations on a ground-level came to Alex one day at his parent’s lake house when he overheard a few yacht club sailors complaining about not having information on the lake weather conditions as well as the power and direction of the winds.
They hesitated sailing at all, given that winds can cause quite the trouble once at open waters. Far from the seemingly regular sailor talk, what Alex took from the experience was the perfect forecast platform idea.
The Brainchild Gets to It
Certain that he could construct networks to assess the weather in different locations, Alex founded Understory in 2012 and initially named it Winstruments Inc.
He rebranded the company twice more, once to Subsidence, and finally to Understory Inc. The platform kicked off as a social network for weather forecasts and selling inexpensive devices called weather stations. These tools helped consumers connect with one another and discuss the weather, but unfortunately, the interest in them soon faded, causing Alex to pivot to another approach: business-to-business.
In doing so, Alex had to overcome a few obstacles on his way. One of these was the initial platform deployment which turned to failure when activated through its switch. Problem-solving felt natural to Alex, who not only bypassed these issues with craft and skill but also built the perfect weather station as a result.
He had a mission he wanted to accomplish, to predict storms, provide better forecasts, and spot weather conditions easier, all the while taking note of what takes place on-ground, on the surface, and everywhere in between.
Understory Inc distinguishes itself from other weather forecast brands as its stations serve as technologically advanced sensors which detect and deliver over 125,000 measurements per second - and across three different continents! The revolutionary design is the heart of the platform and it offers the only existing solution to a more reliable and responsive weather forecast.
According to Alex, the weather stations are mimicking a skilled weather expert, and capture real-time measurements to register events such as rain, hail, wind, and more. The platform also records barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, heat index, wind gusts, sea level pressure, along with an array of other meaningful and crucial assessments. What makes the platform Alex run revolutionarily is its ability to measure all of those specifications in real-time and without any weather station alternation.
The technology of Understory Inc. is perfected to be deployed worldwide with the aim to radically change the way each weather manifestation is understood.
Headquartered in Wisconsin, the platform counts over 50 employees and is powered by a cloud-based and AI system that keeps the measurements accurate, precise, and to the point.
Since its founding, Understory Inc has managed to raise total funding of $29.7 million in seven funding rounds. Their first-ever customer was American Family Insurance, while the company was also funded by 13 other investors, Ventures 4490 and True Ventors being the most recent. The latest round was raised in May 2020 and came from Series B funding.
With the power of knowing the weather conditions, Understory has significantly contributed to insurance companies worldwide, with the platform successfully managing to leverage and improve property quality for any weatherly occasion.
The company holds over 400 weather stations, in cities such as Dallas, St. Louis, Kansas City, Houston, and Denver. During Alex’s master studies, he was presented with the Wahl Award as well as the Lettau Award for his thesis on hail formation and cloud microphysics.
Through the ups and downs, Alex’s drive and persistence have pushed him beyond his own limits, and led him to become a social and human contributor of magnitude proportions, always weathering the weather as a master of the unforeseeable!