Video: Founders’ Story – StormImpact Helps Electrical Utilities Model Outages to Prepare for Storms and Improve System Reliability
No matter where you live or what you do, the electric power system is essential for economic security and quality of life. Over the last few years, electrical utilities have been dealing with increasingly damaging storms. In the United States, weather-related power disruptions are responsible for billions of dollars in damages and loss.
That’s the enormous problem that Columbus-based StormImpact has set out to solve. In this entertaining video, Co-founder Steven Quiring and CEO Jamie McKee talk about building a company that, instead of being “storm-chasers,” helps electrical utilities get out in front of major weather events.
Just as forecasting, prediction, and scenario planning are the foundation of StormImpact’s machine learning solutions—so are these best practices the foundation of their company culture.
Any startup business can use business-building tips from the StormImpact team.
- A startup with a solution to a big enough problem can disrupt the status quo– It’s hard to think of a stronger force of nature than a tornado or a more “status-quo” industry than electrical utilities. Yet when utility companies saw that StormImpact can provide the information that utilities need to respond to storms, they listened.
- Spinouts can use university connections to build sales traction. In 2017, The Ohio State University (OSU) invited 35 utilities to a workshop to discuss their challenges and needs with modeling storms. From those connections, StormImpact built a collaboration with those utilities that led to paying contracts for early product versions. “The best source of funding a company is a customer willing to pay for the MVP (minimally viable product).”
- Seize the moment. In the utility industry, demographics are changing. People are retiring and taking their learned knowledge with them. One advantage of StormImpact’s data-driven machine learning models is capturing and quantifying that human expertise before it disappears.
- Practice patience and plan accordingly. Contracts with large organizations take time. Whether it is a licensing agreement with a university or a contract with a corporate beta customer, be prepared. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Expect NOT to know how to navigate.
- Connect to local resources: “Talk to Rev1 early. They will help you figure out the order of operations. Our legal team, marketing team, accounting team, and advisor are all connections from Rev1.”
ABOUT THE FOUNDERS
Steven M. Quiring, Ph.D., Professor at The Ohio State University (OSU) and Co-founder of StormImpact, is a climatologist who applies climate data to solve societally relevant problems. His current research projects are concentrated in two areas. The first is improving our understanding of the land-atmosphere interactions and applying this information to improve drought and seasonal climate predictability. The second is modeling the impact of weather events on power infrastructure. Over the past fifteen years, Dr. Quiring and his associates have developed StormImpact’s prediction platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to better predict weather-related power outages.
Jamie McKee, StormImpact, CEO, has more than 20 years’ experience in operations and executive leadership in large organizations and startups. He specializes in navigating teams through changing environments and challenges resulting in exceeded expectations and growth. He is an enthusiastic innovator with a strong solution-finding mindset and motivated to change lives.