My season started late but it was hardly a bust.

Reflection and Future Plans

While the snow still packs the slopes of Killington, Jay Peak, and Saint-Sauveur for up to another 4 weeks Snowology has made it through our first season as a subscription service, and boy has it been quite the season. We finished with about 3,750 paying subscribers which well exceeded our projections as well as our other more lofty goals. I'm proud of this number and what we achieved.

This long overdue launch first came to fruition back in June when we rolled out subscriptions and the response from everyone was overwhelming. You guys, the early ones and those who also supported my efforts when we monetized on Facebook showed up in overwhelming force to help us on our voyage. Thank you! We did it! It worked! We made it! And a very special shout out to the people who have gone out of their way to support me in so many different ways; from friendships, to the positive karma, and the guidance, to helping to spread the good word, and even for some emotional support. There are in fact many dozens of you and I love and appreciate you all!

I did work hard this season, too hard no doubt and that's being humble and not braggy. I needed for this to succeed, and so I was all in. I have to say that I was better suited for something like this at half my current age. On the positive side I'm going to make my conditioning a work requirement from here on.

Snowology is also Luis, Deane, and Cole. They are programmers and designers with decades of experience. I've known Luis since I was 18 when we met in college, and Deane and Cole are both from the community. They all have day jobs, but I think everyone also has a dream of making something cool, and successful so that they can all afford pow vans and spend the winters on the best snow around on each given day. OK, I might be taking a little artistic liberty with their dreams, but they see the potential here and are excited to build it. I'm lucky to have them, really!

Future Plans

I want to talk a little about our future. I asked for feedback on Facebook yesterday and the most common wish was for some form of summary at the top of Storm Updates so that people could better discern if they were relevant to their needs.
I think the conundrum here is primarily trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Long-form written weather updates have some practical limits. They're good for knowing the full picture and delivering color and tidbits, and the maps are there for the most important specifics, but they just aren't specific enough for those who have a destination in mind and that's really all they care about. Unfortunately written updates were the only tool we had this last season, but that's going to change.

Becoming a weather app is a no-brainer given what Snowology does. It's always been a part of the plan. Our goal is to launch an app and have weather and operational data available by November. We're a small team so we all need to deliver in order to make this happen. We'll try to start launching stuff as it is ready this off-season, but the first step is the biggest of course.

I don't want to get into too much detail here about how everything will work, but I do want to highlight two important things about our development. First is that we're building a "ski weather app", meaning the focus is purely on ski areas and what is important to skiers and riders (sorry, no gardening tips, but yes to trail counts). Second is that accuracy is paramount and while we are going to try to automate as much as possible it really needs to be at least as good if not better than manual forecasting, and it will in fact be better in some ways. We have a fairly unique advantage in that we are really only forecasting certain things for 150 points on a map instead of every inch of that map over a whole country or more like pretty much every weather app does. We can refine specifically to our ski weather needs without worrying about what those refinements might do to the forecast in a valley, much less 3,000 miles away. Precipitation and especially snow of course is the hardest part of this, and the most important single thing we cover. It won't be fully automated, but it will be programming-assisted in the future and I believe that too will get better instead of worse as a result of automation.

I believe 4 times more people are interested in simply a weather app than are interested in the long-form coverage. Honestly, if we do our job well when it comes to the ski weather app functionality, then most people will eventually buy a subscription just for the weather app interface and not the written stuff we did last season. Don't get me wrong, the thrill of the hunt when a snowstorm is coming is part of the allure that numbers on a screen don't satisfy well. That feeling never gets old, in fact I'm missing it right now.

I do have to trim my time at my desk next season; by half in fact. Doing hopefully most of the development in the off-season should help this time. I've already streamlined some things last season, but I do need to write less frequently next season regardless. Storm Updates will of course stay; everyone loves them and that's how most subscribers come. I'm considering doing one Weekend Outlook per week around Wednesday since subscribers can use the weather app side to track changes after whereas I often held these up or did multiple updates this season when there was active weekend weather in order to dial it in better. I'm also considering an Extended Range Outlook, possibly once a week and I might also use this to track upcoming storm potential as well as weather patterns. That's it for the regular written weather stuff if things go to plan, and the more we can automate the more time I can steal back while subscribers will be able to get more information on demand. Most of the time I save will be spent writing trip reports and sharing stoke from the slopes, or just simply chilling with my snow buddies. Part of my job is to feel the excitement and share it with everyone, and that's the best part there is to doing this.

I'll keep you posted on our progress!

-- Matt