Startup Focus: Climate X

Date: 25 August 2021
Author: FINTECH Circle

Climate X is a startup projecting how climate change will impact properties, assets or infrastructure under different scenarios. We spoke to their Co-founder & CEO Lukky Ahmed to find out how they’re changing the future of the industry and what he has learnt on his founder journey so far.

How would you describe your business in one sentence?

Climate X helps businesses, governments and individuals understand and prepare for how different climate change pathways will impact specific locations, buildings, assets, infrastructure and land – by modelling the probability and severity of extreme weather events all the way to 2100.

Tell us why your company is a game-changer for our industry?

The world is already changing faster than we’re adapting to it. This year alone, we’ve watched extreme heat causing grid failures and wildfire across northern parts of the Americas and Turkey, as well as devastating floods across Europe and China destroying roads and buildings, costing countless lives.

Governments and businesses have rarely assessed climate change with a forward looking, long term ‘adaptation’ lens in mind; and certainly not with the urgency it requires. But that’s now changing.

Financial service firms around the world are being mandated to assess climate change-related risks for the first time. That means looking at the impacts of climate change across their businesses, supply chains and customers to pro-actively identify future threats and take mitigating actions to improve resiliency and reflect climate risks in accounting (for example, collateral valuations, pricing, capital planning and loss modelling).

Climate X unlocks the data firms need to undertake that type of assessment. We use the latest scientific methods and technological innovations including the latest climate models, remote sensing, Digital Twin Earth Modelling, and sparingly machine learning only where we really need it (all of which is as cool as it sounds!), to develop a heat map of extreme weather events like flooding and subsidence, decades into the future.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

As part of Climate X, I’m most proud of the team and culture we’ve built. It’s something special and moulded by a genuine passion for making the world more climate-resilient by providing climate intelligence our customers can understand, and trust.

On a personal note, my journey has been somewhat unconventional. I chose not to go to university instead opting to explore various career paths rather than committing to a specialist ‘thing’ to study. I ‘fell’ into Banking, taught myself the ropes, had some amazing mentors and quickly realised that I could drive change at an institutional level by scaling the corporate ladder. That propelled me forward and led me to eventually becoming an International Manager at HSBC.

Fast forward a decade, I’ve lived and worked in many countries around the world and after a short time in consulting with Accenture, founded Climate X with my co-founder, Kamil Kluza. We’re one of the most innovative, and quickly becoming one of the most sought after, providers of physical risk data on the market.

We’re proud of how far we’ve come in such a short time but also completely aware that the hard work has only just begun.

We’re excited for the future potential of the business and the positive impact we can make on the lives of millions of people around the world!

What has been the greatest challenge leading a startup so far?

The work has been as intense as most successful founders describe! Initially, just myself and my co-founder Kamil Kluza, sacrificed every early morning, lunch break, evening, and weekend to build the business whilst also managing full time jobs in demanding consulting roles for one of the UK’s largest Banking Groups.

Whilst this was stressful and often felt as if we were only making small steps without immediate tangible results, having a co-founder – the right co-founder who’s not a duplicate of me, but a complement – was critical in making sure we pushed each other forward to that key next milestone, even when times were tough. We never lost sight of the bigger picture and we would regularly take stock of progress to keep the motivation levels where they needed to be.

What’s your typical day like?

I don’t think there is a typical day anymore, and that’s one of the things I love about what I’m doing. I tend to split my days into a few blocks:

  • Focus time to think, research, network, and do the ‘doing’
  • External meetings
    – giving back to people who might benefit from a conversation with me – fellow founders, students, people looking to transition into climate etc.
    – investors (though I’m very selective on taking these calls now)
    – and most importantly with customers – I love hearing their ideas of how our data can help them
  • Internal meetings with the team

At least once a week, I step back to think about bigger strategy, vision, and innovation.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your fundraising journey?

Make sure you get the round dynamics right. What do I mean by the round dynamics? Always be aware that the amount of money you ask for implies a valuation (whether you quote one on your investor deck or not).

We went out of the gate trying to raise too much for our pre-seed, but thanks to honest and constructive feedback from some potential angel investors, we were able to restructure the round so that we only raised as much as we needed to hit that next key milestone.

Whilst it meant we’d need to raise more capital earlier than we would have liked, from a founder perspective that’s a good thing because you can (assuming everything goes to plan…) raise at a higher valuation AND can get to work a lot more quickly.

Your advice to anyone starting out as an entrepreneur?

Don’t let the ‘idea’ of building a business paralyse you from acting. It will almost never be the ‘ideal’ time and the conditions will never be perfect. You will need to at times, especially on your first foray, fail your way to success. The most important thing is to keep moving forward and keep making progress.

I speak to so many people who have great ideas but very few who take the steps to implement those ideas in the real world. That used to be me! In this day and age, it’s never been easier – everything is literally at your fingertips with the internet. Whether it’s the ability to build prototypes or MVPs to bring your idea to life, to find potential customers to validate product/market fit, or to source investors who will back your business.

As someone once told me, the difference between those who do and don’t, is those who do, do!

Lukky is co-founder & CEO of Climate X. Prior to founding Climate X, he spent over a decade working across Risk Management functions in the financial services sector for the likes of HSBC, Hang Seng, Lloyds Banking Group and Accenture. He is an accredited member of the Forbes Business Council, Leaders for Climate Action and an On Deck Climate Tech Fellow. 

You can connect with Lukky on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.