The Philippines is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world, with a geography that makes her vulnerable typhoons, floods, volcanoes, earthquakes and droughts. While working in IT, Felix Ayque began compiling cyclone reports and sending them out as email alerts to communities. His work has evolved into an environmental intelligence platform Komunidad, which collects data from government and private sources, and turns it into customizable analytics to help customers respond quickly to potential disasters.
The Manila and Singapore-based startup announced that it has raised $ 1 million in seed funding, led by Wavemaker Partners with participation from ADB Ventures, the venture capital arm of the Asian Development Bank, to develop in Asia and add functionality to its platform, including a self-service version scheduled for release in January 2022.
Founded in 2019, Komunidad has clients in the Philippines, India, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and serves multiple industries including utilities, agriculture, mining, education, local governments, and health centers. outsourcing of companies. Prior to launching the startup, Ayque worked as an IT developer at several weather agencies, including New Zealand state-owned company MetService. He began reporting on cyclones himself as a consultant after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, also known as Super Typhoon Yolanda, which killed at least 6,300 people in the Philippines.
The reports were aimed at helping businesses respond more quickly to natural disasters. Typhoon Haiyan struck at a time when the business outsourcing industry was growing rapidly in the Philippines, with many foreign companies establishing multiple offices in the country. During a typhoon, businesses typically shift the workload to offices in areas that are not affected. Ayque’s first emails contained a manual analysis of potential cyclones.
Demand for its reports has grown as companies, including energy providers, have to respond to climate change. Komunidad began to generate enough income to grow and for Ayque to hire employees including meteorologists, data scientists, software developers and business development teams based in India and Southeast Asia. His new investment will be used to build a scalable platform.
Komunidad’s data sources include major players like The Weather Company, acquired by IBM in 2015, the weather intelligence platform Tomorrow.io, and several small environmental and weather data providers.
The platform transforms the data into dashboards corresponding to the needs of their customers, such as extreme weather conditions, solar energy, marine, soil humidity or air quality. “We act as a system integrator that only brings in the relevant data and tells customers that this is the most important data,” Ayque said. Komunidad also allows its customers to create their own alert systems. For example, in the Philippines, many customers send alerts through Viber, one of the country’s most popular messaging apps, or text messages to reach areas with unstable internet connections.
For energy customers, Komunidad’s tools help them forecast things like energy consumption as a function of temperature. It has also been used by local governments to decide on school cancellations. During the pandemic, Komunidad helped cities monitor population density so they can decide which areas need more crowd control.
One of Komunidad’s competitive advantages is understanding what data is important in different areas. For example, he recently made an agreement with the Assam State Disaster Management Agency (ASDMA) to focus on lighting and thunderstorm alerts, as Assam is the one of the most lightning prone states in India.
“Each country has a different profile, and we understand that our approach has to really focus on the community and then expand into businesses,” Ayque said.
Since Komunidad’s customers need to respond quickly, he creates easy-to-understand visualizations from raw data reports, which are often incomprehensible to people without technical training. For example, this can be a simple bar graph, warnings in green, yellow, and red, or maps that turn red if a major weather or environmental event is expected within the next six hours.
Part of the funding from Komunidad will be used to launch self-service customizable dashboards next year that will allow customers to drag and drop widgets, like building a website in Wix or WordPress. The seed cycle will also help Komunidad seize new business opportunities in India, Thailand, Cambodia and other markets, grow their sales teams, and pay for more data sources.