Poncho, a weather service that gives subscribers fun, actionable advice about the weather each day instead of a list of temperatures, just launched in Boston.
The idea behind the startup is that people don’t need an unlimited amount of weather data: They really just need simple, friendly advice that can guide their daily decisions. Should you wear a scarf? Will it be wam enough for shorts?
Poncho is a sassy orange cat in a yellow rain slicker who sends his subscribers customisable text or email updates about what to expect from the weather each day. Before launching in Boston, Poncho was only available in New York City
We sent Kuan Huang, the company’s founder, some questions about Poncho’s Boston launch (lightly edited for clarity):
How many subscribers does Poncho NYC have right now?
We recently passed 16K subscribers in New York City. Both the consistent organic growth and high engagement led us to start thinking of expanding beyond NYC. The unique open rate of our email stays at almost 50% every day, which is pretty RAD in an age where everyone complains about being overwhelmed by emails today. :)
Why did you choose for your second location?
Boston is close-by and has similar weather patterns as New York. It’s easy for us to bring what we have learned in New York to Boston.
We also spent part of February and all of March testing Poncho’s voice and writing style in a few major cities (Boston, Austin, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, etc). Boston was one of the cities that gave us the most helpful feedback.
New York and San Francisco also both always get all the love from startups. People kind of expected us to go to SF next. I guess we’re breaking the pattern this time.
Anything that Poncho will be doing differently in Beantown versus NYC?
We will start by offering weather forecasts and pollen forecast only (no commute options at this moment). We also have a separate twitter handle (@poncho_boston). Everything else is pretty much same.
What new features have you added since we checked in with you last fall?
We have made lots of improvements to the system. You may also have seen the collaboration that we are doing with Duane Reade: Poncho displays a $US4 off coupon for allergy meds when there are high pollen counts on that day.
What’s on the horizon for the company?
Our main focus right now is working on the key technology that will help Poncho go national at a fast speed and in low cost. The technology checks the weather of 43000+ locations in the US (there are a little more than 43,000 zip codes in US) and group those locations together based on weather patterns. That will significantly reduce the number of forecast messages that our editors will need to write everyday. There is lots of maths and optimization involved in figuring that tech out!
We are also redesigning the whole site. We’re planning to roll out both the redesign and the new technology in early May. Stay tuned!
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