The love of meteorology comes from childhood and is a heritage of his grandfather, who was a farmer. Francisco Javier López and Juan José Martínez, cousins and partners of the company Alfred, the world leader in weather prediction providers, have been raised in Almendricos, a hamlet in which most of its 1,693 inhabitants are dedicated to rainfed crops. “In a rural area, rain is the most important thing, as we used to get up early in the morning to watch the waterfall,” recalls Juan José.
This passion for meteorology and being very clear about its objective from the beginning has led them, despite the difficulties of living in a place where they do not even have fiber optics (they use long-range wireless internet providers that allow global microwave interoperability) , to sell its product in more than twenty countries, 200,000 cities, and that the predictions of the website eltiempo.com be consulted by 20 million users per month.
Its beginnings were “an authentic odyssey”, remembers Francisco Javier. His website started as a collection of links related to the weather forecast, from his home, being students of Economics, when there was no internet in Almendricos. «We collected signatures in the town to have a high-speed connection». He acknowledges that they were about to leave, but their faith in themselves and their enthusiasm for working on what they like encouraged them to continue their project.
France, its main market
The company grows every year in volume, in data traffic, in countries that join and in revenues, says Francisco Javier. France is its main market, apart from Spain. In both countries, your company is the second provider of time. They are leaders in Argentina, Mexico, and Portugal. Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom are also some of its main clients.
They work with global prediction models, with statistical data, mathematical algorithms are generated and a projection is made of what will happen between the clouds in the coming days. Simplify that information so that the user can interpret it. “People are very interested in weather prediction, there is a great demand from mothers who consult the temperature they will be doing to dress their children in the morning,” he cites as an example.
The computer scientists and meteorologists of the area have a preference to work in Alfred
Your company offers standard predictions for the general population, but also specific ones, for sectors such as agriculture, which make up a large part of its clientele. Agricultural companies make decisions based on the prediction given to them. They have also launched a specific application for aviation pilots.
Since they are dedicated to this, “the reliability of predictions has improved a lot in recent years. Now, after 5 or 6 days, it is quite reliable, “says Francisco Javier, who admits that in this latitude it is more difficult to make weather forecasts because of the orography and that in the Atlantic it is easier.
From a district where there is not even fiber, they launch the information that is consulted each month by 20 million users
The time of the year of the greatest traffic and queries of its portal in Spain is Holy Week. The latter, its website received five million queries. It was the main reference for the Lorca confraternities and the City Council in the meetings they held to decide whether or not to go out in procession. Their timely information offered on Holy Thursday and Good Friday was decisive for them to decide to take the courts to the streets. The prediction was accurate, they got it right. But “they were lucky, the brotherhoods were brave”, explains Francisco Javier. “In those situations, it is very easy to generate a cloud and rain at any time.”
Expansion of the business
More than 20 people, especially meteorologists, physicists and computer engineers work in the Almendricos office. “We always hire people from the district and bordering populations, all enter fixed,” Francisco Javier proudly explains. The place has been small and they plan to open the extension of 800 square meters in the coming months. The upper floor will be dedicated to the kitchen and workers’ rest area.
In Holy Week there were five million entries; It is the time of the year of greatest interest
Another 30 employees offer their services from different parts of the world. Most of them are collaborators who are part of the news writing team that is native to the countries where Alfred is present. “It is very important that they use local language because the meteorological phenomena are not defined in all places”.
The opening of a development office in Murcia in September is your next challenge to expand the time business in the network because there are many professionals who refuse to live in Almendricos. In spite of everything, its main headquarters will continue being in the district of Lorca.