Weathermob, a mobile, social network centered around crowdsourced weather reporting, has raised an additional $650,000 in new funding today from a number of angel investors, including Mark Hastings, Lord Waheed Alli, Victoria Hackett, and Drew Volpe, bringing its total raise to date to $1.1 million.
The company had previously raised $360,000 in angel funding last spring.
Launched about a year-and-a half ago, Weathermob offers users an iOS app that makes it easy to report your local weather in less scientific terms. It includes a spinning, slot-machine-like interface where you choose from weather icons like a sun or storm cloud, before adding your own personal take on the weather by picking icons that represent how the weather makes you feel (cheerful, miserable, etc.) and what it’s good weather for — like grilling out or playing golf. You can also optionally add pictures or videos to accompany the post.
In some cases, these pictograms can be a bit confusing I found. For instance, what does it mean that you think it’s good weather for a picture of a black cat? Or eating pizza? (I mean, isn’t always a good time to eat pizza?) However, this method is far less technical than setting up a real weather station of your own for participation in a community like Weather Underground, for instance.
“What percent of Weather Underground is women?” co-founder and CEO Julia LaStage asked Chief Product and Marketing Officer and co-founder Michael Nicholas during an interview.
“I don’t know, maybe negative 6 percent?” he jokingly replied. (Um, I like Weather Underground, and I’m female, so….?)
Anyway, the point is that Weathermob is trying to make weather reporting and sharing more social and accessible. Plus, with session times averaging more than six minutes, it seems to click with a portion of mobile weather app users.
The app isn’t only for socializing around weather, though. As with a traditional weather app, you’ll still find the current temperature and lows and highs at the top of the screen, which you can tap for the extended forecast.
Explains LaStage, the starting premise for the company was the human story surrounding weather. “We think there’s more of a story than the story told by scientists, and the story around numbers,” she says. “That’s proving to be something that’s delightful for users and a bigger data play than we probably even knew.”
The company says it now has 100,000 monthly active users, across some 137 countries worldwide. The funding will help it hire additional engineers and data scientists, the execs tell TechCrunch.
The bigger plan for Weathermob is turning smartphones into weather stations by using sensors that are being built into the phones themselves. Nicholas notes that the Samsung Galaxy S4, for example, ships with new weather sensors. These, he expects, will become standardized across more Samsung Android devices. The bigger question is whether Apple will follow suit, but the company is already brainstorming workarounds if not. (Weathermob is also planning to launch on Android this fall.)
“In the next 24 months, you’re looking at what could be fully-fledged weather stations in people’s pockets all over the world,” Nicholas says. This could be especially helpful in emerging markets which don’t have weather towers and other infrastructure for weather collection and reporting.
With the new funding in tow, the startup is moving forward with product development, hiring, and its larger ambition to be a weather “observations” company that will eventually sell its weather data to other companies making forecasts and predictions.
For end users, however, the iOS application remains free.