Poncho’s got you covered.
The first thing 80% of Americans do when they wake in the morning is check their mobile phones. Nearly every consumer has an app-based morning ritual. For some of us, it’s checking work email (guilty). Others open up their favorite news app. Still more check in with their friends on social networks. And, of course, we all check the weather.
The rise of messaging, notifications, and conversational UI is changing the morning ritual for many. Increasingly, the lock screen is the place you start, catching up on those overnight notifications. What if there could be a service that captures your daily morning habit right there, on the lock screen?
Enter Poncho The Weather Cat.
Poncho is a digital hipster feline who lives in Brooklyn. He sends you cute, informative, and entertaining content to help you start your day right. He has purrfected his delivery of weather information, and over time he’ll get into other parts of your morning habit. Poncho has opinions and his own voice, which is why we refer to him in the third person. In a world of faceless chatbots, Poncho is a friendly companion.
His creators (parents?) are Kuan Huang and Ashley D’Arcy, whom we met on this week’s episode of Planet of the Apps. We were impressed by their insight into the value of owning lock screen real estate, as well as Poncho’s stickiness. More than 50% of Poncho’s monthly active users are active on a daily basis. That’s a statistic we only typically see for consumer services that have become habits. Poncho is on the leading edge of building a new type of media business, based on notifications and conversation.
Additionally, the Poncho team has thought a lot about what constitutes native content for the messaging layer. We really like their commitment to stickers in iMessage. It’s a natural use of the Poncho character and brings him into a more emotional relationship with users, and is likely to be a source of significant growth in the future.
Poncho CEO Sam Mandel wrote a post recently that further elaborates on Poncho’s goals and aspirations:
Poncho the Weathercat doesn’t care if you don’t “get” his new iOS app. He’s into what he is into. As opposed to…medium.com
We’re excited to work with Sam, Kuan, and Ashley on taking Poncho to the masses. Watch the company’s appearance on Planet of the Apps here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/show/planet-of-the-apps/id1235839922.
I caught up with Sam, Kuan, and Ashley recently to ask them a few questions about Poncho…
Alex: Where are you from? What’s your background and how did it inform your idea for your app?
Kuan: I grew up in China, and in college my mother would call me with the weather forecast every day. I decided to build a digital service that could offer weather and other information in the same friendly, trustworthy way.
Alex: Who are you targeting with Poncho?
Kuan: Weather is one of the most important content categories, but there is no incumbent player with tech and content to make it relevant and entertaining to a younger audience. Ultimately, we want to be the way this audience starts their day each morning.
Alex: What was it like to work with Gwyneth Paltrow?
Ashley: Everyone on our team admired Gwyneth Paltrow even before Planet of the Apps, but we were blown away by her intelligence, business and product insights, and by the fact that she is also such a nice, approachable person.
Alex: What does diversity mean to you?
Sam: We are proud that the Poncho team is more than 50% female, especially since our audience is too. It is a tremendous help in building a team culture we are proud of. Diversity is very important in product development too. That said, we (and the industry as a whole) are far less diverse than we should be, and we need to focus every day on improving.
Alex: What does success look like to you?
Sam: Success is working with people you like and respect and doing something you love every day.
Alex: What’s your ultimate goal for your company?
Kuan: We want Poncho to be a brand loved around the word, and a positive force in popular culture.
Alex: What’s the most valuable piece of professional advice you have received?
Sam: “You are what your record says you are.” (Football coach Bill Parcells).
Alex: How do you strive to manage — yourself, your people and your company?
Sam: Try to not manage people like Bill Parcells.
Alex: What is a core value you aim to emphasize in the way you conduct business?
Sam: Act with conviction, but respect all people and viewpoints.
Alex: What’s your motto?
Sam: “Does this come with fries?” (Our Webby Award acceptance speech)
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