Poncho weather service picks up $2.4 million from Lightspeed Venture Partners

Poncho, the betaworks-backed weather service, has raised $2.4 million in seed funding led by Lightspeed Ventures.

Poncho launched out of betaworks the same year as Giphy and Dots, and uses SMS and email to bring the news to you in an entertaining way.

The premise is simple. Instead of having users seek out their own information via weather apps and being bombarded with numbers like temperature, precipitation percentages, and wind chill, users would simply receive a text message or an email with the need-to-know, laymen’s terms information in an entertaining fashion, complete with a GIF.

The service started out in New York and has since grown to offer news alerts to the whole world. But not without a few small bumps along the way.

In February of 2016, Poncho launched an alarm clock app to let you wake up to the weather. However, without native support on iOS, the introduction of Do Not Disturb threw a wrench in things, and Poncho’s alarm clock has effectively been discontinued.

However, the company was featured on Apple’s Planet of the Apps in July, leading to the investment from Lightspeed. The company also released an app in conjunction with the show.

The Poncho app focuses primarily on useful push notifications. Theoretically, you’d never have to hop into the Poncho app to get what you’re looking for. The main type of content, obviously, is weather information. But eventually the app will bring in stuff like horoscopes and motivational content to give users a moment of zen as they begin their day.

“We’re building a new backend that will enable AI-driven personalization for weather and content and offers,” said CEO Sam Mandel. “We see a much higher engagement rate when things are personalized and tailored to the user.”

Mandel says that Poncho sees is seeing seven-day retention (users coming back seven days in a row) in the 60 percent range.