'Weather Watcher' entrepreneur tracks with SCORE to achieve success
FrostyFlake's founder Marcus Curley, with the support of SCORE North Cook and Lake Counties, is helping organizations make better and more timely decisions around weather, using a time-tested approach that is supercharged by 21st century technology.
Headquartered in the Rockies of Wyoming, FrostyFlake https://frostyflake.com/ is a unique approach to weather monitoring and alerting its customers immediately of current conditions.
It uses artificial intelligence that has come onto the scene to help snow removal, municipalities, advertisers, airports, universities, and others across the nation watch the weather in real-time.
"FrostyFlake also monitors dozens of locations monitored in the Chicago area, suburbs and surrounding counties and into South Central and Milwaukee area of Wisconsin as well as Indiana," points our Curley, CEO, FrostyFlake, based in Laramie, WY.
"FrostyFlake has saved numerous hours and streamlined communication for our snow removal business this past season," said Adan Roura, general manager of Snow Plus Inc.
"Before we relied on watching cameras and forecasts, calling our folks throughout the greater Chicago-land area we service for condition reports," he added. "All to stay on top of the very fluid and unpredictable nature of the weather. Now we utilize FrostyFlake to watch our locations - all the time, alerting us when it starts to snow."
A Friend's Need Leads to Business Opportunities
Curley has an extensive background in corporate technology and was a CIO in the insurance industry.
"But I wanted to do more with artificial intelligence and was looking for the opportunity to apply what I learned on my own to meet a business need," Curley recalled.
"All the 'dots' connected for starting the business with a friend's need to track weather for his business." Curley said. I have always had a big passion for automation and innovation.
FrostyFlake was founded in 2020, with support from his wife, Alison, to solve a basic but essential business problem: To provide weather monitoring, reporting and analytics technology in real time.
With FrostyFlake, Curley has solved the problem for a friend who owns a snowplow business and needed lead time to arrive at customer sites to start his plowing services. Curley successfully created a system that would watch for snow or rain and notify his customer via text message when it starts in a specified location.
"Marcus is an ideal mentee for SCORE because he listens well and asks great questions. He is always looking for ways to improve his business and actually puts many of the ideas we discuss into action," said John Fisher, one of Marcus' mentors from SCORE North Cook and Lake Counties.
"He has a fantastic attitude and is willing to pivot his focus to match customer needs."
Marcus Curley's SCORE Mentoring Experience: In His Own Words
In a recent interview, Marcus shared many insights about his entrepreneurial experience and how his SCORE North Cook and Lake Counties mentors, John Fisher, Mark Lieberman and Alan Sipe, assisted in developing his business. SCORE is funded by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
For information and to request free and confidential mentoring services visit: https://northchicago.score.org/
What is special about your business?
A number of things, but FrostyFlake is different in three main ways:
1. We do not do any forecasting. Everything is in real-time.
2. We are not a traditional weather technology. Instead, we took the idea of looking out the window and observing weather, and taught computers how to do that. This created our proprietary artificial weather intelligence.
3. We are super flexible and scalable. We have over 30,000 cameras built into FrostyFlake for the United States currently and we can easily watch weather in almost 20,000 towns across the country.
What have been the high and low points of being a business owner?
We have had some remarkable success this first year+. Have won two startup competitions in Wyoming, raised a modest amount of funding, been accepted into the Microsoft for Startups program, have been invited and participated in a national Accelerator, and have had adoption of our service through 23 U.S. States and 1 Canadian Province.
Wyoming has proven to be an excellent place to start a business are financial and trade show grants, mentorship, small business development centers for entrepreneurs to take advantage of to start and grow their business.
Year one was a little tougher than other "normal" years with Covid and the impact that they had on tradeshow attendance. It will be nice to see attendance come back this year.
What have you learned from your experiences as a business owner?
Lots! How to start a business on a basic level, getting everything setup and running, but most importantly how to sell, which I am still very much learning.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business?
Get a solid network of close advisors that have experience before starting. Have them give you advice and use them regularly as a sounding board. I use my SCORE mentors as my "brain trust" and quasi board.
What influenced you to seek help from SCORE?
My good friend John Fisher suggested it early on. He has been a mentor of mine for years, so it was natural to have him, Mark, and Alan provide their advice.
How SCORE Helped
Connections, networking, and regular advice on questions, tradeshow selling, or other important business areas. When you are a founder, you can easily find yourself in the echo chamber of your own mind. SCORE helps to get solid outsiders' perspective that you can trust.
What is great about my mentors?
I have three mentors and they have great individual qualities. First, I like their upbeat nature when we meet. That is nice because being a founder is hard and this can be an emotional boost.
From Alan Sipe who is a wealth of info for sales and tradeshows, John Fisher who is a rockstar business and IT executive and can span multiple areas with ease, and Mark Lieberman who brings a software and background that aligns to my company specifically. They all come together to be a very well rounded and helpful group.
What would you tell a fellow business owner about SCORE?
Check it out. Talk to them and stick with it for at least a quarter of mentorship. It may take a while to find your stride and have mentors understand what you are doing, but once the pieces start to come together you can find some real value.
To request free and confidential business mentoring services, visit: https://northchicago.score.org/