#98: Floodbase: Co-founder Bessie Schwarz, on Building a ‘Systemic Change Company’ & Why Flooding (Part 1)

Bessie Schwarz is Co-founder & CEO of Floodbase, a startup that provides flood tracking for disasters and insurance. Powered by satellites, machine learning, and on-the-ground observation, they’re on a mission to enable all communities to prepare & respond to climate disasters, by reducing the barriers to scientific info and capital. Few know it but 1.5B people face flood risk worldwide, with $15T of economic activity at risk of flooding by 2040. 

This is climate adaptation at its finest.

Bessie began her career ‘in the field’ as a field organizer, helping those most vulnerable to flooding, but saw the greatest possibilities was really in gathering satellite AND field data, to model the projected path of floods, and then communicating that out to local governments and eventually, reinsurers (more on what that is later).

Floodbase has been on a tear since 2015, currently monitoring for almost ½ a billion people across the world.

We dive deep into…what exactly is climate adaptation? How did Bessie get into this space? Is flooding increasing? Why & how? What’s parametric flood insurance? How is Floodbase enabling all climate adaptation financing? And finally, what the hell is CLI-FI and why should you care?

This episode is particularly valuable for…big thinkers! Bessie is the quintessential founder who saw an incredible opportunity and took massive action to make it happen. If you’re looking for inspiration on launching a startup that has both impact and money in it, look no further. As well, this episode is valuable for future-focused nature-lovers who have wondered: how will we adapt to a changing world and survive it? Get some answers today.

Bottoms up! Please don’t forget to subscribe on Spotify or your favorite podcast app. It keeps us producing new episodes for you 🙏🏼


Listen to the episode on Spotify, Apple PodcastsStitcher, TuneIn, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

Show Notes

  • [4:01] What Neal Stephenson book did you read recently?
  • [4:41] Would you mind summarizing that book (The Ministry for the Future) for the audience?
  • [7:10] You all have a CLI-FI book club?
  • [7:53] What does it mean to be a community organizer?
  • [11:40] Changing power dynamics sounds pretty hard. How do you do that?
  • [14:58] Has climate change affected your life so far? How has it?
  • [17:49] The communities you were working with in Florida. Were they being forced to move because of flooding?
  • [19:00] Climate adaptation. How did you make this shift? What does this mean?
  • [21:14] Why flooding? Why are you focused there?
  • [23:12] Don’t we know a lot about flooding already?
  • [24:10] It took a Congo community 3 weeks to understand an area was flooding. What’s the origin story of Cloud To Street (Floodbase)?
  • [26:15] You’re doing this with satellites?
  • [28:55] What is the business of Cloud To Street (Floodbase)?
  • [30:08] What’s the difference between parametric insurance and the insurance most of us know?

Links From Episode

If you were to launch a startup focused on addressing a specific aspect of climate change or environmental challenge, what would it be and why? We’d love to hear what you think below 😇

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.