As Hurricane Sandy continues its churn across the Caribbean, tearing up Cuba and barreling toward the Bahamas with Cat 2 winds, fear not, Southern Floridians. Weather Puppy is here to make the natural disaster that much cuter.
Invented by Miami entrepreneur Suraj Hemnani and business partner Shiv Takhar, the free cell phone app has a simple premise. Weather updates + adorable puppies = mind-numbingly compulsive iPhone checking.
"We were talking about weather and how it's kind of boring," Hemnani says. "But how it's packaged makes a big difference. That's why there's always a sexy weather girl on TV. We wanted to find a different way to deliver the data and decided that dogs would be really cool.'"
The app launched Sunday and had more than 1,000 downloads by the end of the day, Hemnani says.
The 30-year-old was born in Miami and attended Coral Gables Senior High School before studying finance at the University of Florida. He left a lucrative banking job to try his hand at invention.
Weather Puppy has the potential to make money and do good, Hemnani says. Although the app is free, upgrades (such as "Halloween" and "Fall Colors" themes) cost 99 cents. Hemnani and Takhar have also teamed up with dog charities including Paws4You Animal Rescue in Miami and the Broward County Humane Society to raise animal rights awareness. They hope to soon include photos of dogs that are up for adoption on the app.
While most Weather Puppy users will stare stupidly at the absurdly cute creatures telling them about impending thunderstorms or scorching sun, Hemnani says his hours of work on the app have desensitized him like a jaded skin flick director.
"There was a week two months ago when I must have looked at over 1,000 puppy photos" while sitting in Panther Coffee in Wynwood, he says. "When I told people, they all said, 'Yeah, I wish I were you. You have the greatest job.'
"But after 20 minutes, you start to lose the ability to tell which ones are cute," he says. "It became really difficult to narrow it down."
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Hemnani's app -- which can be downloaded here -- opens a Pandora's box of possibilities for puppies in the media, however.
What's next? Puppy Michael Putney dissing on Miami politics? Puppy Pepe Billete snorting mounds of cocaine?
P.S. Hurricane Sandy really is headed for South Florida. Stay tuned to
Weather Puppy Riptide for updates.