(Photo by Flickr user Mike Mahaffie, used under a Creative Commons license)
If you’re a surfer, odds are you’re familiar with Swellinfo.com, a site that collects, organizes and produces weather data to forecast wave models on a local level.
“Any dedicated surfer who checks the site, it’s not like they check it once in a while. They check it every day,” said founder and former CEO Micah Sklut. “Sometimes five times a day. You check Facebook and you check Swellinfo.”
Wait, hold up a second — former CEO?
After owning and operating the site for nearly a decade, Sklut sold Swellinfo to outdoorsy media company OutdoorHub last May. Despite the acquisition, Sklut said he’s still the point man whenever the site has an issue. After all, the avid surfer built the site from the ground up.
Sklut, who studied weather and climatology at University of Delaware, said the site took about a year to develop. First, he had to manually collect and organize massive sets of data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, a federal agency responsible for maintaining all kinds of weather data.
“Wind is the big thing,” he said. “When you have the wind data, you’re able to model what the waves are going to be.”
Then, he had to create a program and algorithms for processing that data, which needed to be pushed to the website. Sklut said he was never “formally trained” in programming. Needless to say, self-education can pay off.
For Sklut, that pay-off took about three years.
“It took me a little while before it was bringing in enough revenue to support me,” he said. “In the meantime, I had some side gigs teaching and doing web development.”
After selling Swellinfo, Sklut took a dev job with Rehoboth homebuilders Schell Brothers (dig that responsive design). And while he’s taking a temporary breather from navigating the stormy seas of entrepreneurship, Sklut said he’s got a new project or two on the backburner.
“They’re still on the weather application side,” he said. “That’s kind of where I want to be. I’ve considered more broader scope, but weather applications are my expertise and there’s not quite as much competition.”
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