As part of a recent investment round, Sickweather will be returning to familiar stomping grounds to open a Kansas City office.
A graduate of the 2014 Techstars-led Sprint Accelerator, Sickweather raised a seed round of an undisclosed value to accelerate sales of its tech that forecasts and maps illnesses for consumers and enterprises.
“We’re thrilled about it,” Sickweather CEO Graham Dodge said of the round and new office plans. “Our CTO was joking about how important it is for us to be near Grinders (pizza).”
Based in Baltimore, Sickweather’s algorithm scans thousands of social media postings and direct reports from its users to generate illness maps and forecasts. For example, when a Facebook user posts “The doctor says I’ve got the flu,” Sickweather will recognize and report the post. When several reports appear nearby one another at roughly the same time, they are grouped as “potential storm activity” represented by heat mapping. The results are displayed via a web-based and mobile app.
The company says its results arrive up to six weeks prior to the Center for Disease Control’s illness reports, and are just as accurate. Sickweather was featured on the Today Show for recognizing a flu outbreak about to 6 weeks before the CDC.
While initially a consumer-facing app that garnered revenue from advertisers selling cold meds, Dodge said that Sickweather now is finding traction with enterprise clients. A variety of industries now tap the company’s deep swaths of data , including pharmaceuticals, insurance and health care.
The company now works with companies such as Clorox, Pfizer, the Weather Channel, AccuWeather and CVS.
Dodge said that the firm has yet to decide where it will office, but added that the Crossroads Arts District is an alluring option. Dodge’s firm and 9 others set up shop in the Crossroads for more than three months as part of the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator.
Founded in 2011, Sickweather now employs eight people. The recent funding round will go toward the firm’s sales efforts, Dodge said.
“It’s the first money we’ve raised that’s meant to go wholly toward growing our enterprise and B2B outbound sales,” Dodge said. “It will stretch our runway with the help of our current revenue. We’re already at break even as a company so that’s helpful. This will be the first time we can aggressively put money toward growth.”
Among the investors in Sickweather is Kansas City-based Firebrand Ventures, a $7 million fund that launched in July. Led by former Techstars managing director John Fein, the fund plans to invest its $7 million in about 30 Midwest startups over the next three years. The fund tends to write checks around $150,000.
Fein said he developed a relationship with the Sickweather team through the accelerator, adding that he’s excited for the company’s future for a variety of reasons. While he’s thrilled about Sickweather’s growing appeal to enterprise clients, Fein added that the firm’s team is a top reason why he invested.
“I’ve known them for three years and I have the utmost confidence in their core team,” Fein said. “Another thing I’m excited about is the power of their data. No one else has the combination of historic data, real-time illness data and predictive analytics. That’s proven to be really powerful.”