The year 2021 demonstrated how ill-equipped we are in the face of global crisis - with multiple Covid outbreaks, inequity in vaccine distribution, a massive second wave in India, and a diluted COP26 agreement. This shows how far back we are as a society and economy on solving the Climate Crisis.
In Feb 2019, at the dining table of my living room, a data scientist, a developer, and two founders were bursting their heads on why and what they were doing. At that moment, I remember looking at the polluted grey skies and saying, “regardless of money, fame, growth, technology, and AI, all I truly want to see are Blue Skies.” I continued that it should be every citizen’s right to know where the pollution destroying their natural environment is coming from - which power plant is emitting how much CO2, NOx, SOx, PM2.5; which textile factory is dumping tonnes of effluent waste into which rivers; which housing complex is responsible for dumping its sewage into the nearby quaint lakes and how these activities are affecting our planet.
And that simple dream gave birth to Blue Sky Analytics. As two brown Indian founders, building a satellite data startup sounded impossible and pretentious even to us. Adding to that, we wanted to build a “Climate-tech company” when the phrase Climate-tech itself was rarely used. Our challenges were endless. In fact, research by Elinor Ostrom, the first-ever woman to win Nobel in Economics in 2009 for her “analysis of economic governance of commons,” was to form our central challenge -
Who would pay for clean air or water and, to that effect, monitoring of clean air and water?
Traditionally, the world of climate action was flocked by a generation of environmentalists who primarily presented to the world as researchers or activists or policy professionals. Taking the baton from the Elinor Ostroms of the world, we started building Blue Sky Analytics, testing a new avatar as a startup, a for-profit business with aspirations to become a unicorn. We continued to build silently and persistently and saw our 2019 dreams turning into reality. In the last two years, we have built three datasets - air quality, GHG emissions monitoring from forest fires, and surface water monitoring. We monitor various environmental parameters at the resolutions of 1 km to 30 meters and, for some, even 10 meters.
With time, we will be able to monitor forests, locate the source of industrial effluent, quantify carbon emission from industries and power plants, and the datasets will get richer, more comprehensive, and most importantly, more accurate. To elaborate on one example, the latest pledge signed at COP26 by 100 nations and more than 200 ecosystem organizations aims to end global deforestation by 2030. However, monitoring infrastructure for reforestation, deforestation and forest fires is still lacking. This is precisely where we assist organizations in solving deforestation by providing comprehensive APIs and visualization platforms.
After many years of environmental degradation and climate catastrophes, the climate was globally recognized as the central economic threat in 2021. Monitoring of emissions turned into Net Zero goals and ESG investing frameworks. Monitoring forest fires and water resources turned into climate risk assessment for businesses. We were motivated to see some of the companies which had inspired our stories, goals, and aspirations, like Planet and Tomorrow ringing bells at NASDAQ and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink stating that the next 1,000 billion-dollar start-ups will be in climate tech.
2021 was a great year for us as well - we saw revenue, users, awards, and recognition. However, some unforeseen challenges emerged - our entire team was crippled for almost two months by the devastating COVID wave in India; a lack of existing services for distributing geospatial datasets resulted in us building an API platform from scratch; scaling our infrastructure to handle data on a global level.
We start 2022 with a jump back in the arena after one-two many punches. We might be young and small, but we are here to stay and build datasets that the world would need for another ten years. To achieve this, we are looking to capitalize the company more, hire more talent around the globe, and serve the global banks, insurance companies, credit rating companies, and the overall ecosystem of organizations operating in this management of commons with transparent and consistent data. Hence, if you are a potential user, customer, investor, teammate, or just someone eager for a fighting chance at solving the global climate crisis, buzz us, and let’s get talking.
I have always been a fan of numbers because they are indisputable, so I would like to end this letter by leaving you with some - in 2021, CO2 emissions were 55 billion tonnes, we reached 419 ppm of planetary CO2 concentration, and 1.5 C warming goals look impossible lest we get our sleeves rolling and collaborate against the real monster.