This week we speak with Miles McEathron, the co-founder of WWHIM, a travel website that allows you to find a destination with the weather you desire. He tells us how he has used freelance web developers to bring his idea to life and his tips for other start-ups.
How would you describe what WWHIM does?
WWHIM (pronounced whim) is an informative website that provides weather information within an interactive and easy interface. Visitors can sort weather forecasts within a user defined radius from hot to cold or filter weather conditions to only see the weather they desire. When a destination is selected, useful links to travel planning sites are provided. WWHIM also provides weather notifications for users who wish to be notified when their favourite location reaches a user-defined temperature. WWHIM caters to a variety of travel enthusiasts including couples, families, the retired RV’ers and college students.
How did you come up with the idea?
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest of the United States we are used to rainy weather. As Memorial weekend approached in May of 2011, we reflected on how rain tends to dampen the fun of the three day holiday weekend. In order to find nice weather, we figured the best bet would be to head out of town. Searching the internet for a location within driving distance where the weather would be nice proved unsuccessful and we discovered first-hand the need for a website that could do a reverse weather search.
How long did it take you to get the business off the ground?
We decided to present the project to freelancer.com in order to find a suitable partner for the programming. An alpha version of the website was live and functional approximately one month after hiring our programmer. With several design upgrades, improving the user interface of the filtering function and adding the ‘notification capability’, the beta version went live a little over four months after the idea.
What’s been the most difficult aspect of setting up the company?
The most difficult aspect of setting up the company has been finding time to work on WWHIM. The three of us work full time jobs, and all WWHIM work is completed after our day jobs. Many late nights and long weekends have been spent working on the company, but we have found the work extremely rewarding.
What applications or tools do you find most useful for your business? Why?
The freelancer.com website has been vital to the development and improvement of our website. After evaluating several programmers’ applications to partner with us on this project, we selected an extremely knowledgeable resource in Bulgaria. Our partner has been very innovative on this project, provided valuable insight and is always extremely responsive and executes deliverables quickly.
How are you different to your main competitors?
What sets WWHIM apart from other weather websites is the interactive searching and filtering capabilities. Competitors only allow a user to search the weather at a desired location, where WWHIM takes the approach in reverse – searching for a location with a desired weather. Users can sort, refine and filter their weather search in several ways, allowing for a fresh approach to travel planning – letting the weather forecast be the guide.
Can you tell our readers a bit about your business model?
WWHIM was developed to meet a need of the travel marketplace – and our goal is to stay connected to the users to provide the most easy-to-use tool to meet this need. Our success relies on staying in close contact with the visitors to WWHIM and transforming the site to become indispensable in their lives. The project has been completely self-funded and we now are looking to connect with affiliate programs and start an advertising and marketing plan for WWHIM. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in partnering opportunities at WWHIM. email@example.com
What has been your biggest success?
WWHIM was built completely through email correspondences with our web developer located in Bulgaria. There has not yet been a meeting or telephone conversation with our colleague and a remarkable working relationship has been established. The limited amount of time and level of communication required to execute the successful and complicated WWHIM website is a notable achievement.
How important a role has social media played in promoting WWHIM?
The launch of WWHIM was announced through Twitter and Facebook, and both social networks have been used to promote the website from the beginning. Currently, Posterous is used to consolidate and distribute social media messages. Contrary to what is popularly posted on the web we do not think social media has provided a drastic impact to the website, but we continue to use these resources as they provide us with an additional presence on the web.
What piece of advice would you give to someone setting up their own startup?
For all considering setting up a start-up, it’s important to not worry about doing everything “right” from the beginning. Define milestones for the project and start small with a defined timeline for the next steps. It’s important to have a final end-state for the company written on paper, along with a strategy for getting from the beginning to the end. It’s also important to keep in mind each project will be unique! There is no right way and you will learn new things along the way that you can always go back and work on.
Where do you hope to have the business in the next five years?
In five years, we hope WWHIM will be well known in the travel community as the source for finding the ideal weather for a weekend vacation. We picture a day when the answer to ‘what are you doing this weekend?’ will be ‘I’m going to WWHIM it!’