Startup Interview: Devan Stormont, Creator of the Popular Weather Route App

Startup Interview: Devan Stormont, Creator of the Popular Weather Route App

Weather Route

Startup Interview: Devan Stormont of Weather Route

Background: Weather Route is an app that displays what the weather will be at any given stage from your present position to your destination, based on when you’re expected to be there.

Hello, Devan.  Thank you for
joining me for this interview. Why don’t we start by having you give a
little background about yourself?
Hi Trevor, it’s my pleasure to join
you. I’m a software engineer at a mid-size company here in Reno, where I’m
heavily involved with product development and internal training. On the side, I
wrote a little app called Weather Route.
What inspired you to create the
Weather Route App?
Two winters ago, I had plans to visit
my out-of-state parents for Christmas. A large weather system moved in that
wasn’t completely a “bad storm”. It had areas of being clear, but
they would shift around as the weather system moved. I tried for a while to
plan a road trip through the storm, but getting information about which roads
were clear and which were not was almost impossible from existing weather
sites, especially when long hours of driving were factored in.
Eventually, I gave up and canceled my
plans for the trip. But, Weather Route was born!
Currently, Weather Route is limited to
the United States.  Do you have plans to expand to International Markets?
Yes. I just completed a big overhaul
in the weather forecasting that will allow the app to work internationally.
I’ve begun rolling this out to some foreign markets.
I understand you’re coming off some
pretty significant gains in membership after this holiday season.  What can
you tell me about that?
Absolutely! This was a very exciting
winter for me. Once the weather started turning bad, I began getting very
consistent user growth – about 12% user growth a week, very regularly, almost
like clockwork. By the time that had slowed down with the winter trailing off,
I had 5x as many users as I’d started with.
Reno has been getting some buzz lately
for a number of tech startups in the area, how does it feel to be a part of
this movement and have you had a chance to work with any other entrepreneurs in
town?
It’s very exciting to see the local
tech industry growing with such momentum. I haven’t been as involved as I
should be, but I have participated in a couple of hackathons (the annual Space
Apps Challenge). That has been a great way to meet other entrepreneurs and see
what they’re working on. Colin Loretz at the Reno Collective, Eric Jennings at
Pinocc.io, and Joe Chavez (who runs the local Space Apps Challenge) are each
fantastic local entrepreneurs.
Will Weather Route be available in
other languages?
Yes. Right now, it is English-only,
but I am planning on providing multiple languages, if the international version
picks up well.
How can I find Weather Route?
The app is available on Google Play.
Just type in “Weather Route” and it will pop
right up!
What kind of users make up your core
demographic and what markets are you trying to expand into?
I wrote the app to target vacationers,
originally. What took me by surprise was the number of truckers that have
started to use it. One thing I’d like to do is target that segment more with
app solutions.
Can you tell me any future plans for
Weather Route?
We’ve already touched on a couple
areas – expanding to international markets and providing localization for other
languages. I’m also examining porting the app over to the iPhone, as well. I’ve
gotten some requests from coworkers to do so, indicating that the demand is
there.
Customer satisfaction is arguably the
core reason apps exist.  How do you keep your customers satisfied and do
customer suggestions affect the development of future versions of the app?
I pay very close attention to what my
users are telling me. Some of the best ways to get users impassioned about your
product is when they complain to you about a problem or a missing feature and you
go above-and-beyond in response. There’s always some part of code I’d like to
fix or some new feature I’d like to put in, but I take a “drop
everything” approach with user feedback. If a user reports a problem, I’ll
hunker down until it’s fixed. And if I start to hear about a wanted feature
from two or three users, you can bet I’m working on implementing it!
Ultimately, it’s users who drive
adoption of an app forward. If a developer gets in the way of that adoption,
they’re only hurting themselves. Plus, it’s just great to hear directly from
users that you’ve fixed their issue!
Thank you for taking the time to
answer some questions, now get back to work!

Science Sunday: Virtual Driver’s Licenses

Virtual Driver’s Licenses are coming.

Delaware is looking to become the first state (again) by adopting a secure mobile app that will allow users to use their cell phone a virtual driver’s license at traffic stops.  It actually makes a lot of sense given that these days people are more likely to forget their wallets than their cell phones.  There are already 30 states that let you show your proof of insurance electronically, and that number is growing.  Why talk about this on my first Science Sunday?  I’ll tell you why.

Years ago, there was talk of implanting an RFID the size of a grain of rice in between people’s thumb and index fingers for tracking and various purposes.  Apart from a very small number of people, Americans rejected this idea.  Privacy wonks abound, Americans have vocally rejected ideas that inhibit their privacy, yet hypocritically demand more safety by way of increasing video surveillance and the like.  Here’s what I’m concerned with: the app Delaware is talking about is a secure app, likely created by the state.

It’s been known for some time that a lot of apps make you agree to absurd conditions before being allowed to use the app.  I wonder what kind of privacy the users will have to give up when they accept the terms of this app.  There’s really nothing stopping them from using your cell phone to find your location.  With a warrant they can do it already.  It’s possible this app would give them this ability without a warrant, something the Patriot Act has also already been doing in ‘extreme’ cases. However cool this technology is and however convenient it is to carry your phone as a virtual driver’s license and perhaps as a method of payment, it’s worth noting that the potential benefits are marred by the potential risks.

Those who know me know that I’m no Luddite.  I use some of the latest gadgets and I love imagining the future.  What I’m concerned about is aloof consumers who don’t question the government or the companies selling them these products.  Without asking these kinds of questions, becoming a victim of a society run amok is not a possibility, but an eventual certainty. I spoke of some similar issues in my dystopian thriller Memory Leak.  In my book, technology could be a great defensive weapon or the catalyst for my characters’ destruction. You’ll have to read to find out which way it goes.

What do you think about using your cell phone as a virtual driver’s license?  Am I being too paranoid, or is there merit in moving forward in this area with caution?