Deal Dive: VC interest in wildfire technology grows as the world burns around us

Frontline is latest startup to grab VC dollars with $6.4M seed round

Wildfires, and the damage they cause is a growing problem. There were more than 66,000 wildfires in the U.S. alone in 2022, and while many believe these natural disasters are largely a California problem, they are burning across the country, causing millions of dollars in damage.

Harry Statter knows this because his entire career has centered on the intersection of the built world and natural impacts. In 2012, he was working at a forestry company he founded and decided to do some research into what causes buildings and structures to ignite in a forest fire. He found that 90% of structural fires were the result of windblown embers, which can travel seven — and up to 24 — miles from an actual wildfire. He decided to run.

“Active defense, through firefighters being on the scene protecting that structure, you just can’t scale firefighters by the number of exposed structures,” Statter told me. “Furthermore, firefighters are there for the safety of human life, they are not there for the protection of private property. During wildfires, they ensure safe evacuation of people, they are not there to protect people’s homes.”

Statter founded Frontline, which builds remote sprinkler systems that use geospatial software to detect wildfires. When a home is within range, Frontline’s software turns on the sprinklers and advises users on what to do next. Ten years later, the company has just raised a $6.4 million seed round led by Echelon and is starting to scale.

“We are growing very fast and have seen tremendous demand for our technology,” he said. “We’re increasing our Series A round because we’re growing so fast.”

But Frontline isn’t meant to be a panacea, and there’s still a long way to go before there’s a broad range of technology that helps users reduce the damage caused by fires and learn to live better with them. But the foundations to change this are starting to be built.

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