Panther Coffee Fuels Weather Puppy
The entire process of app making is an art in of itself from the development, design, and coding, to the launching and marketing strategies. Suraj Hemnani and Shiv Takhar, of Weather Puppy, can surely attest to the dedicated artistic refinery necessary to launch their app featuring the most adorable puppies related to the daily weather. Fueled by Panther Coffee in Wynwood, which serves as their makeshift office and energy source, the young, astute developers refer to themselves as App Artists.
With less than three months in the App Store, they’ve become the #4 most downloaded app in the weather category, beating out Weather Underground, the company that provides their app with the weather data. Their motto is “smile every time you check the weather.”
In a world of open source sharing and user engagement, contact with the physical world holds less precedence than interfacing with the virtual world. As we traverse the digital divide, the importance of Arts communities serves as a significant source, strengthening the physical ties we lose to the cloud. Panther Coffee, as it turns out, is not just a cool place to pick up a latte, but rather a communal breeding ground for creativity. Sharing through technology is continuing the dialogue of human interaction, generating a higher level of content through the connection of multiple minds.
Perhaps Weather Puppy would not be as fabulous as it is, had it not been for the communal tables at Panther Coffee, their delicious Ethiopian roasts, or the friendly girls that helped to pick out the cutest puppies Shiv and Suraj could find. Shiv explains, “the coffee brought us in here, but it was the culture, the atmosphere, the vibe, the people [that kept us here]… we had a lot of really productive days here. A lot of Weather Puppy has been built in here. Panther Coffee is a part of Weather Puppy.” Suraj echoes, “I love the energy more than anything…the sense of collaboration.”
They tried to work out of Starbucks reaching out to fellow left brained laptop lovers, but were met with backs turned. Within minutes of walking into Panther Coffee, their quest for peer to peer sharing was met with warmth and enthusiasm. Suraj describes, “here [at Panther] if you say, ‘hey can I show you something I’m working on,’ their face lights up. People are excited to see what other people are working on. They want to give their input, their feedback, they want to share what they’re working on too.”
Shiv explains the need for collaboration. “Often when we’re picking the content we lose all awareness of what’s cute or not.” Suraj agrees, “If you look at a thousand puppies, you start to lose your sensitivity as to how cute they really are. They’re all cute.”
Weather Puppy was birthed out of this duality, sharing in the physical world and then uploading to the virtual, where the sharing is further explored. Through the app, the user can customize many features such as, adding multiple cities, different puppy themes from glamorous to outdoorsy, even adding their own puppies, and then can share the images and data via Facebook and Twitter. Through their Twitter feed, Weather Puppy receives an overwhelming response as Suraj explains, “I only wish in my life I could get girls to respond that way on a personal level in a way that the app does…they go nuts…These puppies are definitely celebrities and they have quite a large female following that I’m quite envious of.” Shiv chimes in, “the puppies get more love than we do.”
Suraj explains their desired result of translating something utilitarian like a weather app and making it exciting. “This is the wall calendar for the iPhone generation… [We’re] taking something mundane, the data, and making it appealing. We hope you get that little dopamine rush every time you open the app.” He continues, “It’s somewhat of a cheap thrill, but it’s a chance to put a smile on your face when you engage with data that typically wouldn’t, so why not make something more interesting if you can.”
Besides serving as an aesthetically pleasing application, the concept was born out of altruistic motives. It would have been easy to do a hot weather girl app, with the creators based in Miami. But Shiv and Suraj wanted to create an app that could also attract a female demographic, all the while offering an opportunity to help with a social cause. Suraj, having come from a family that fostered puppies, is passionate about driving animal rescue and welfare awareness. Therefore, Weather Puppy has partnered with approximately a dozen major charities through the app. Simultaneously, the creators want to “delight and surprise the users as much as possible.” Suraj continues, “there’s something amazing about building something that other people get to appreciate.” Shiv complements the sentiment. “This is our creation and people enjoy it…everyday they smile.”