Climatetech spotlight: Fathom

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SETsquared Bristol

Fathom, a global leader in flood and climate risk, has recently announced its significant acquisition to Swiss Re. We had a chat with Co-founder, Dr Andrew Smith, to hear his story…

Four founders of Fathom smiling, wearing business casual attireFathom at a glance:

  • Start date: Incorporated 2013
  • Market sector: Insurance/Climatetech
  • Location: Bristol/London
  • Number of employees: 55
  • Amount of funding raised: £5m seed funding
  • Company growth status: Exited

Let’s start with Fathom’s elevator pitch 

Flooding is humanity’s most prevalent natural disaster. Fathom provides world-leading flood risk data, covering the entire planet.

How did your startup journey begin?

Back in the early 2010s I was undertaking a PhD within the hydrology research group at the University of Bristol, one of the world’s leading academic departments building environmental risk models. In 2011, a flood in Thailand had a huge impact on the global economy, as many industrial sites were hit in a seemingly unprecedented event. As a research group, we realised that some of our early models captured this risk and, had this information been available, global insurers, manufactures and investors would have been much better prepared. This seeded the idea to form a company.

SETsquared Bristol was invaluable in educating the founding team in how to structure and build a company.

How did SETsquared Bristol incubation support help?

SETsquared Bristol was invaluable in educating the founding team in how to structure and build a company. Everything from marketing workshops through to how to build a board were all entirely new to us. The wide variety of workshops and training provided us with a crash course in company logistics. It also educated the team in the mechanics of the startup world and how things like funding rounds are typically structured. Alongside this, the mentoring available was very useful. Lastly, we made some great connections at various events, including meeting Stuart Whitfield at a ‘speed mentoring’ event; he is now our company CEO!

Particularly early on, every effort should be expended to ensure that you are hiring not good but excellent team members.

What are your exit strategy top tips for founders?

Don’t focus too much on the exit. An exit will come because of other actions, the ultimate consequence of which should be building an excellent company. One piece of advice that, in my experience, can’t be understated is hiring well. Particularly early on, every effort should be expended to ensure that you are hiring not good but excellent team members. These team members will be responsible for setting the tone of the organisation moving forward; getting this wrong could be fatal.

What’s next for Fathom? 

The mission remains the same; build the world’s best flood risk data. In our new home within Swiss Re we have the means to distribute what we have far more widely, so our models will get into many more people’s hands. We will also have the capabilities to accelerate and improve our products and roadmap. An exciting few years are ahead of us.

Find out more about Fathom’s acquisition.

Find out about SETsquared Bristol’s incubation programmes.

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