Continuing the Boulder Jewish News series of interviews with local Jewish startup founders and entrepreneurs, this week we asked Joel Gratz “4 Questions.” Joel (@gratzo) is “a ski bum and meteorologist” who is also the author of the Colorado Powder Forecast at www.coloradopowderforecast.com.
What brought you to Boulder?
After graduating from Penn State (Meteorology) in 2003, I came to Boulder for graduate school at CU and, of course, to ski. I quickly realized that this town was unparalleled in its combination of outdoor and entrepreneurial support, so I decided to stay…for a lifetime. Colorado is a fun place to be a meteorologist due to the varied weather and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 70 degrees and -20 degrees in the same week? Awesome! At least it’s not boring!
What’s the forecast for ColoradoPowderForecast.com?
The site started as a small 30-person email that I would send to friends every Thursday night as we canvased the state for powder. It grew organically with nearly three quarters of a million page views so far this season. The future is bright – and is well beyond Colorado and snow. I’m hoping to raise a bit of money over the next few months to help accomplish a big step forward for the site. Stay tuned:-) For now, I’m thrilled that people visit the site and that so many are signing up for email alerts.
How do you connect Jewishly?
I grew up in a Jewish house and was bar mitzvahed, though I consider myself Jewish in a more cultural sense than in a religious sense. I did visit Israel as part of a Birthright trip around 2005 and still have friends in Israel from that trip.
What does a powder forecaster do during the summer?
I think my dad asked me the same question! Right now I have an eye toward establishing partnerships throughout the snow industry and focusing on developing a bigger, better, and more sustainable business going into next season. There is weather in the summer, though, so I also forecast for hikers/bikers/climbers trying to avoid thunderstorms at www.dontgetzapped.com. I also try to find thunderstorms by storm chasing in the eastern Colorado plains and the states of the midwest. I finally saw my first tornado last spring in Texas – an amazing experience.
Interested in an interview? Have a startup you’d like to share with the community? Contact us! Disclosures: we are big fans of www.coloradopowderforecast and follow @gratzo on Twitter for updates including when to head up to the high country!
For fun, enjoy one of Joel’s IgniteBoulder presentations. This is from December, 2009 (so he’s not talking about this week, just so you know).
Joel, have you heard of Humanistic Judaism? Humanistic Judaism embraces a human-centered philosophy that combines the celebration of Jewish culture and identity with an adherence to humanistic values and ideas. We are an international movement, several Humanistic rabbis in Israel and throughout the U.S and Canada. Visit the Society for Humanistic Judaism website (shj.org) for member congregations. In Denver/Boulder, Beth Ami invites the community to our Passover Seder on April 17th at 4:00 pm at the Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden Colorado.
Personally, I'll be visiting your site don't get zapped to learn about potential thunderstorms in areas where I'm hiking.