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Ryan Kottenstette, CAPE CEO and co-founder, shares about his company's recent accomplishments, how he has built a culture of inclusivity, and his advice for aspiring founders.
Published on Jan 17, 2023
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Avanta Ventures’ portfolio company, CAPE, uses deep learning and geospatial imagery to provide instant property intelligence for buildings across the United States. CAPE enables insurers and other property stakeholders to access valuable property attributes at the time of underwriting to power better decision-making and protect both lives and livelihoods.
We recently sat down with Ryan Kottenstette, CAPE CEO and co-founder, to ask him about his company’s recent accomplishments, how he has built a culture of inclusivity, and his advice for aspiring founders.
Avanta Ventures (AV): Ryan, what problem is your company working to solve? 
Ryan Kottenstette (RK):
CAPE is fulfilling the need for instant, accurate property insights for insurers and investors, focusing on risk-predictive property characteristics, such as exterior conditions.

AV: Over the past year, what business accomplishment are you most proud of? 
RK: We had a very strong year in 2022, so it’s hard to pick just one. But I have a few. First, we landed a record number of multi-year client contracts which embed CAPE deep in the workflows of large carriers. We also developed a breakthrough solution called Purefill, enabling us to deliver more accurate replacement cost estimates by leveraging our machine-learning engine across multiple data inputs. And we’ve developed and launched solutions for mortgage originators and investors to evaluate collateral better. 
Lastly, CAPE was recognized as the #1 Best Place to Work in the San Francisco Bay Area, as a Fintech 250 by CB Insights, and as the ‘Next Big Thing in Tech’ by FastCompany. It was a really amazing year.

AV: What are you most excited about this coming year? 
RK: We’re looking forward to growing partnerships. We’re always looking for potential partners who can offer relevant complementary information that we can incorporate into our solutions.

AV: At the early stage of a company, building an inclusive culture is essential. What are three things you’ve done at CAPE to foster an inclusive culture?
The most important thing we’ve done is build a series of explicit values that drive our priorities and behaviors. These include communicating with candor, asking for and providing context, fostering deep collaboration across the organization, providing team members with the latitude to make decisions and take the initiative, and operating with a fundamental desire to impact our client’s businesses and the world positively.

AV: What advice would you give aspiring founders based on your journey to date?
Having a near-maniacal focus on solving problems for your prospects and clients is key. All business decisions naturally flow from that focus. That’s been a throughline of CAPE’s success to date — so much so that many of our clients are now investors in our business — and I encourage founders I work with to follow a similar path.

AV: Let’s end with something fun. What is your favorite city to visit and why?
I really enjoy visiting Munich, Germany. We have a significant engineering presence in Munich, so I try to visit the office 1–2 times per year. I get immensely energized when I see the incredible research our team is doing there and learn how they push the boundaries of machine-learning technology in ways that will ultimately benefit our clients. They also have beer for breakfast. Ask for weißwurstfrühstück.

Thanks to Ryan for speaking with us; we are excited to see how CAPE’s future unfolds.

About CAPE
CAPE provides critical insights into the built environment to power better decision-making and protects both lives and livelihoods.

About Avanta Ventures
Avanta Ventures is the venture capital arm of CSAA Insurance Group. We aim to reimagine the future of insurance and drive future growth for CSAA IG through our engagement and investment in ground-breaking startups and entrepreneurs.

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We remain eager to explore new opportunities, partnerships and collaborations with promising start-ups. If you have an idea or proposal that aligns with our mission, we encourage you to reach out to us.

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