Louisville, Ky — A small but rapidly growing company in Tornado Alley is using a proprietary algorithm to disrupt the insurance industry. WeatherCheck curates, collates, and analyzes data from dozens of sources to pinpoint damaging hail storms down to specific street addresses. Property owners immediately get a damage report, so they can file accurate and timely claims, taking fear and subjectivity out of the process. WeatherCheck also provides the weather history for any address, like a CARFAX for real estate.
In just the past six months, Louisville-based WeatherCheck added 30,000 rooftops to its customer base, facilitating hundreds of thousands in insurance claims. With its unprecedented depth of weather data, what WeatherCheck is doing today is just the beginning, according to its founder, Demetrius Gray. The company is now fully automating the response to weather damage – from detecting and reporting problems to filing claims and booking contractors for repairs — while adding monitoring for eight other types of weather perils, including wind, fire, and floods.
This rising company offers the compelling story of two young, African-American serial entrepreneurs now finding extraordinary success.
Demetrius Gray, Founder, Chief Executive Officer
WeatherCheck Founder and Chief Executive Officer Demetrius Gray is a sixth-generation Kentuckian. He grew up in Madisonville, in rural Hopkins County, the son and grandson of entrepreneurs. He first worked in the financial services sector, at a large bank. But following the 2008 financial crisis, it became clear a career in financial services wouldn’t satisfy his growing drive for success. He went back home, to tinker with the idea of growing his own business. He accepted a position as a storm contractor, watching the weather and following the business opportunities in its wake. The process of customer discovery was laborious and expensive: knocking on doors. Even when a customer was lined up, the whole system was slow and involved multiple human touches.
That role took him all over the country and eventually led his applying acquired accounting skills to run a national roofing company. This experience helped him realize that the antiquated methods of the reconstruction and insurance industries were ripe for authentic disruption.
He started his own roofing company, using the limited available data to identify damaged properties. Gray felt that better data could eliminate ambiguity from the entire damage-to-repair process. He set out to radically change the way owners interact with their homeowners’ insurance policies.
He sold his roofing company to found WeatherCheck in 2016. WeatherCheck uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to monitor individual structures for weather damage, and helps property owners and managers respond to insured losses. It’s the only solution of its kind for property owners, leveraging more than a dozen data sources to geo-locate damaging weather.
Although young, (30) Gray is a weather guru/junkie/nerd/wonk. Whatever you call it, Gray knows his subjects inside and out: weather technology, and how it affects business, in segments including insurance, real estate investment, financial technology.
He is a high-energy, dynamic CEO, gifted in envisioning the full potential of the new technologies his company is building.
He has spoken before many investors’ groups, student groups, at hack-a-thons and business-development events, and was invited to speak at the January 2018 American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting on the subject of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, among other conferences.Gray is a charismatic expert source on everything from insurance/property technology to the monetization of artificial intelligence. He refers to his business style as “optimizing southern charm,” using his southern sense of hospitality to win over potential partners, investors, advisors.
Jermaine Watkins, Founder and Chief Technical Officer
Jermaine Watkins, co-founder and chief technology officer for WeatherCheck, is a Louisville, Kentucky native. He earned a B.S. from Indiana Wesleyan University, in business and information systems.
A consummate, driven autodidact, almost everything he’s done professionally has been a step toward WeatherCheck.
Jermaine grew up playing competitive chess and video games, fascinated by complex problem-solving. He went to a different school every year until high school, and wrote his first code at 15, for his parents’ website. He worked in mapping for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers while in high school. Then Jermaine started college and his first company at the same time, installing computer hardware and information systems. The business took off, and he decided to pursue those opportunities full time, working for Ford and other Fortune 500 companies. While consulting, he helped a client develop an e-commerce business. That led to his second start-up, Supply Ark, which sold mousetraps and memory sticks to the U.S. Department of Defense and gas masks to Japan after the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in 2011, among other items. Jermaine then took a job at a small company building websites. Again, after a short time, he left to start his own website business.
He finished his college degree, and was recruited by Yum! Brands, working for them for about three years developing internal apps and building a new corporate website.
After all those experiences, and upon meeting co-founder Demetrius Gray, Jermaine left Yum to help start up his fourth company: WeatherCheck, where he leads a team of developers, engineers, and designers building the revolutionary WeatherCheck platform.
Jermaine enjoys participating in hack-a-thons in his spare time. A family man, Jermaine is deeply connected to his local community and serves as Vice Chair for Community Winterhelp, nonprofit dedicated to assisting low-income families with utility bill assistance during the winter months. He recently wrote an app to transition the program from paper to electronic processes.
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