The new “Extreme Tech Innovators” podcast series includes a conversation with Dale Schilling, CEO and Founder of the 2021 Co-Winner of Extreme Tech Challenge, Hillridge Technology of Australia.
Dale founded Hillridge in 2018 after an extensive career in Management Consulting at Boston Consulting Group working with global insurers throughout the world in Asia, the US and Europe. He was first inspired to start the company while looking back at his childhood experiences working on his family’s farm in New South Wales, Australia. As a farmer, his father would always have to manage the severe risk of extreme weather events, and would sometimes lose his harvest. There were no insurers who would cover his farm to provide him with the security he needed. This is why Dale founded Hillridge Technology, an Insurtech company that uses its proprietary risk profiles gathered from parametric and sensor data to help farmers get coverage for extreme weather events.
The more research Dale did, the more he realized farmers wanted to buy weather insurance and they would if it were available, but local insurance who have access to farmers just aren’t willing to extend their risk profile into things like droughts. So what they do is offer his insurance for very low probability events like bushfires or hails, which, when they hit big are catastrophic. That happens so infrequently, that most farmers will go through their entire career paying this insurance and it never pays out because they don’t get hit by that event. Yet weather events that they do care about like heavy Frost’s or rain at the wrong time just before harvest, or droughts, aren’t covered by local insurers. On the other hand, global insurers take things from a global perspective. When you have droughts happening in Australia, the chances are that it’s going to be raining over in Brazil, and so they’re able to offset their risks across a much broader portfolio, but what these global insurance lack is providing access to regional farmers. This is why Dale started Hillridge Technology, to understand why there is this gap in the market for weather insurance for farmers.
One of the limitations of traditional weather insurance is the cost of underwriting and analyzing the risk of the insurance products. Rather than analyzing petabytes of satellite parametric weather data, Hillridge’s proprietary approach can capture a much broader but localized dataset to build a comprehensive risk profile. Through using Hillridge’s algorithm, analysis costs a few cents, rather than a multi-million dollar contract with a team of analysts.
Hillridge has been expanding rapidly and currently has customers including Sumitomo Insurance, a global insurer, and leader in parametric insurance. They are aiming to expand to Indonesia, Vietnam, Argentina, and then the UK with the help of strategic partnerships they are developing with global insurers. Hillridge currently has a team of 10 and is raising a Seed fundraising round to fuel their international expansion.
It is an honor to have Dale and Hillridge Technology within the Extreme Tech Challenge community as our 2021 Co-Winner. Their technology has the potential to help empower and protect Farmers throughout the world who are working to put food on our tables. Technology like Hillridge truly has the potential to disrupt a 3000-year-old industry while protecting the livelihood of thousands of farmers throughout the world.
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