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Perspectives
Seven years in, OpenSnow rebuilds their platform.

What do you do when your business goes from plucky startup to sustainable, fairly mature business? If you're OpenSnow, the guys that went all in on personal, high-quality snow forecasts, you go all-in on something else: rebuilding your entire platform.

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
       

I could tell you a lot of things about OpenSnow that would be impressive. Things like page views or forecast accuracy or revenue. But I think the thing that may tell you more than anything is this: OpenSnow is the most useful forecast I’ve ever seen, hands down. I check their website multiple times a day during the winter, I gladly pay for the All-Access Pass, and at a time where I subscribe to just a couple of blogs, I read the Utah Daily Snow faithfully each morning.

Seriously, the webcam feature (all my favorite resorts’ webcams on one page) alone is enough to make a visit worth my while.

OpenSnow officially launched just a month after I joined Ryan Solutions back in 2011. Over the years I’ve had the chance to bump into Joel at various events and hear their full origin story. It’s not uncommon to hear about hard work and humility as the genesis for great brands, but it was fun to hear that tone still present when I checked in with him last week.

“On November 1, 2018, OpenSnow will turn seven years old. The “seventh” anniversary isn’t usually one to throw a party over, but I am thankful every year that we get to do what we love (teach and forecast the weather for skiers and riders) and that we have a supportive group of users who come back every year (and often every day of the season). Building and maintaining a business over multiple years and decades is hard work and I’m thrilled with where we are.”

Now five full-time employees and seven contractors spread across the country (their entire team is remote), OpenSnow is that trusted friend you can count on each winter to deliver the info you need in a package that makes it useful and personal.

So what do you do when everything is humming along nicely? You clean up the stuff you didn’t have time for along the way.

“We have completely re-designed and re-coded our website and mobile apps, which will all be released in the fall. The goal with the redesign is to add new features and graphs, as well as clean-up code that was 5+ years old.”

Between the best forecasts API in the biz, a new app called OpenSummit for warmer months, and a shiny new platform just about ready to drop, I asked Joel for some introspection to share some of his wisdom with the rest of us. His answer hits the nail (well, the nail I’ve been unsuccessfully swinging at for a while now) right on the head.

FOCUS. This is not a unique lesson, but so important. As a group, we can only take on two or at most three big projects at any one time. That’s it. There’s no way around it, and even foregoing sleep doesn’t help:-)

Good stuff, Joel. And best of luck with the upcoming winter season.



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