Poncho the Weather Cat, An Interview with Greg Leuch

Feb 3, 2017 | 5325 Views

There has been a lot of bot hype in the last 12 months and only a handful of good bots. Poncho the Weather Cat has stood out as one of the great early chatbots. He delivers information about weather, and if you want it, horoscopes and some light social games.

The Poncho team‚??s broader goal is to understand how best to deliver ‚??thin content‚?? via chat and notifications platforms, pushing what it means to be a content company the way the 24/7 cable TV Weather Channel did decades ago. Poncho is currently available via SMS, email, Slack, Facebook Messenger, Kik, Viber, iPhone, and Android. The 11-person company was launched out of the Betaworks accelerator and it raised $2 million in seed funding from a group of investors led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures.

Below is my interview with Greg Leuch, the Head of Product for Poncho.


What was the original design vision for Poncho? Just for weather notifications, or something else?

Poncho began his career sending text messages to his friends in New York City and began to chat and make friends all over the world!

Kidding aside‚?¶Poncho was started by Kuan Huang as one of Betaworks‚?? Hacker-in-Residence incubators. The inspiration for Poncho came from his mother. While in college, Kuan‚??s mother would text him daily with reminders (as many of our mothers tend to do), with messages to wear a jacket because its cold or bring an umbrella because it will rain later. By taking these helpful reminders and combining them with humor, pop culture, and weather in a short-message format, Poncho was able to have a engaging purpose that differentiated itself from generic weather messaging services. From there, Poncho expanded city-by-city across the US, eventually going international, while along the way launching email, iOS, Android, and chat services to better showcase our editorial and visual content.


How did the Poncho team come together, and what are the roles?

We have been fortunate to have a great team of smart & talented individuals with backgrounds in comedy, hacking, math, poetry, and gaming. We have strived for being diverse & inclusive, for which the results have allowed us to build a company culture is unique and fits perfectly with our brand. Our team of 11 employees is a mix of editorial writers, engineers, designers, and startup veterans.

Source: CNN