Ricardo Fonseca tells us about his new app Weddar, which has quickly achieved popularity with its unique crowdsourced weather reporting.
Following the interest in our recent article on Weddar, this week we spoke to Ricardo Fonseca, the app’s founder. Based in Portugal, Ricardo launched Weddar last month with co-founder Gonçalo Catarino, and has already seen his app downloaded in 86 countries by over 26,000 users.
Weddar is a people-powered weather service which relies on its users to upload information about the weather they are experiencing. When users of the app want to know what the weather is like in a certain area, Weddar will alert people in that area and prompt them to upload a weather report. As well as creating a platform for real-time, local crowdsourced weather reporting, Weddar also lets users submit information on how the weather feels subjectively, using categories such as “perfect”, “hot”, “fresh”, or “freezing”, rather than just supplying statistical data.
1. Where did the idea for Weddar come from?
Basically it came from us seeing how weather conditions varied even in small distances, creating variations which traditional weather services don’t usually account for. Also, it came from thinking that with all the technology and smartphones we use nowadays, people could make their own reports from wherever they are standing if there was an app/service that allowed them to do that in a very simple way. So one thought led to another and Weddar was born.
2. How do you think Weddar can reach the critical mass of users necessary to make it a truly useful tool?
We are seeing a growth from people talking to their friends about it and having them help with reports. And we think these network effects will help us reach more and more people and locations (over 4,000 so far), and get to a point where Weddar is even more useful. Extending it to other platforms like Android (very soon) and the next Windows Phone version, will helps us reach more and more people. Also, we have a few key features that we’ve been wanting to add to the app since the beginning, things like uploading photos with your report, having the possibility of commenting, things that will make the app even more useful and allow better engagement.
3. Can you describe a typical working day?
Well, we both work from different places in Portugal, myself in Figueira da Foz and my co-founder Gonçalo Catarino in Caldas da Rainha, so there is a lot of IM going on, emails, tweets, Skype, whatever is at hand at the time! Usually in the morning we start seeing what’s going on in the app and social networks, then get to doing several things along the day like answering emails, deciding new features and overall strategy, managing the developers work, you know, basically we work on what may be the priority that day.
4. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on Weddar?
For me, I like to take walks and listen to some music, you know, forcing myself to be away from the computer to clear my head for a bit and do some thinking. Reading (off-screen) is also great to unwind!
5. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
I don’t know if there is a secret, but having a passion for what you do and your startup/product is of course a big plus. I’d say having some flexibility too, meaning to have a clear plan of where you want to go but be flexible enough to take other paths that may come in the future, and also surrounding yourself with talented people I think is key too.
6. What drove you crazy when building your business?
7. What motivates you to keep going?
I love the product, I love what we have built, and seeing other people loving it as much as I do ever since we launched is a great motivator! Also, since I believe in the product so much and want to make it better, it gets me going to overcome any difficulties that may come.
8. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
We’re still a few months old and things have been going great for us so far. I think the only thing we would have different would be to try and have a new update sooner than we will (next week, we believe). Other than that, things are going pretty smooth so I wouldn’t do anything differently!
9. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years, we see Weddar being used and seen as a global and trustful weather service. We see millions of people checking Weddar in several platforms: We see the commuter checking it on his iPhone 10 and deciding if he’ll be wearing a short-sleeve shirt for a meeting that day. We see a couple checking Weddar on their Android phone of the place they will be spending their honeymoon and becoming excited about how local people are telling them what the weather feels like there. We want people to think of Weddar when they think of weather conditions as they think about Google when they think of “search”.
10. If you weren’t working on Weddar, what would you be doing?
Well, I think I’d be thinking about any other idea and how it could be brought to life 🙂
11. Tell Springwise a secret…
Probably one of our biggest cards for the launch and thus blog coverage and users was an email we sent to a few select writers and publications, which had a very provocative subject title that Gonçalo came up with. We’ve been mentioning the strategy behind this detail but never disclosed it before. I will reveal it here for the first time ever, the subject was: “F * c k you weather, I’m
an anteater Weddar, the social weather service!” This little detail could be seen as a stunt or disrespectful to some, but got us to the hard job of getting the attention of writers’ mailboxes that get hundreds of PR emails everyday. These are small details that can easily go overlooked, but the fact is they are very important (the subject line is the first thing anyone sees when looking into their mailbox) and it worked out great for us. One of the first writers doing an article about Weddar, actually told us: “That has to be the best subject line ever in a product pitch!” So we think it was worth the shot, but of course, we still think that it wouldn’t do much if we didn’t have an awesome product!
12. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
I’d say if you have an idea for a project you believe in, just go for it! Assess your skills and resources and if you see you can’t do it yourself, find like-minded people with different skills; there are amazing people out there! Just ask! Then, again just go for it and do an awesome job at it!
31st May 2011