Announcing his $9 million Series A: Andy Thompson, CEO/Co-founder of Safehub
Today we spotlight a founder who leverages software beyond the screen to transform an industry. As always, each Ubiquity founder has their own nerdy background (we define nerdiness as having a deep obsession) that led to founding their startup.
Meet Andy Thompson, CEO/Co-founder of Safehub, a platform that delivers real-time, building-specific earthquake damage information. This morning, Safehub just announced their $9 million Series A funding. Ubiquity Ventures first backed Safehub in its seed round of financing.
Can you sum up what Safehub does?
Safehub provides organizations with real-time, building-specific earthquake damage information to expedite emergency response and recovery. Customers include Amazon, FedEx, and other Fortune 500 companies.
What is the story behind how you co-founded Safehub?
As a structural engineer for 16 years with the global consultancy Arup, I focused on the risk of buildings and infrastructure to disasters, and the associated resilience of the organizations that rely on these physical assets. I saw firsthand the need for better risk information, both after disasters and before, to increase organizational and societal resilience. I co-founded Safehub to scale solutions to these problems through the use of technology.
I co-founded Safehub with Doug Frazier, the former Chairman and CEO of EQE International and EQECAT — at one time the largest catastrophe risk management company in the world. Throughout Doug’s career, he has been an innovator developing solutions to help global organizations manage risk. We have been working together since 2006, when Doug was a consultant to Arup, so it was a natural fit for us to join forces.
When did you first get into the technical area of your startup? What drew you to it?
I was always interested in structural engineering — understanding why buildings stand up and why they fall down — and this interest led me to study structural and earthquake engineering at UC Berkeley. Soon after graduating and joining Arup in London, two events happened in 2001 that provided focus and direction: the Bhuj, India earthquake and the events of 9/11. I felt that I could make an impact, both saving lives and increasing societal resilience, through my chosen profession.
We think of nerds as people who are obsessed with something (see our blog post on the subject). What are you nerdy about or obsessed with?
I am super nerdy about structures of all types, and in particular how they would respond to extreme loads and what could be done to make them more resilient. When walking in a city or driving, I find myself thinking about this without even knowing I am doing so.
I also worked my way through college playing drums in a band. I still play!
What’s your advice to budding technical founders who haven’t yet taken the leap to launch their new company?
No time is the perfect time to start a company. You need to trust that you’ll figure it out. I would do some things differently if I could do it again, but that is a moot point. Persistence, and the ability to learn, have been much more important than any innate qualities that I may have or decisions that I made. Listen to advice; but listen to your own instincts more. Even though there are formulas to starting a venture-backed company, you do not need to follow the formula.
Are you a founder in the smart hardware or machine learning sector? Let’s talk! Leave a comment or get in touch with Ubiquity Ventures.
Ubiquity Ventures — led by Sunil Nagaraj — is a seed-stage venture capital firm managing close to $100 million with a focus on startups transforming real-world physical problems into problems solved with “software beyond the screen”. Ubiquity’s portfolio includes B2B technology companies that utilize smart hardware or machine learning to solve business problems outside the reach of computers and smartphones.