How storm chaser Nevin deMilliano turned a unique hobby into a business
Nevin deMilliano (Bachelor of Business Administration ’17) has a business that’s as unusual as his hobby.
As a member of Prairies Storm Chasers, summers see him crisscrossing Alberta to get alarmingly close to severe weather events most people try to avoid.
"That’s bliss for me,” says the 29-year-old deMilliano. “That’s my happy place.”
While he gets charged up by watching a supercell storm swell across the sky, these trips aren’t just for kicks. The photos and reports he shares on social media fill gaps in modern meteorology, providing a degree of immediacy and local reporting that conventional weather forecasters can’t. This is also what inspired his business, Agricast, which he came to NAIT to develop.
“Pretty much everything we do is outside and weather dependent – whether you’re making hay, spraying crops, seeding or harvesting."
Now in its infancy, Agricast supplies clients with short-term forecasts designed specifically for their location. For most farmers, this is invaluable information.
“Pretty much everything we do is outside and weather dependent – whether you’re making hay, spraying crops, seeding or harvesting,” says Agricast client Tyler Graham. “[We’re] trying to get a better handle on one of the main variables in our operation to help us make better day-to-day decisions.”
Scholarships and bursaries promote student entrepreneurship
As deMilliano transitions into his role as a full-time entrepreneur, he acknowledges the support that made it possible. His education is part of that; so are the scholarships he received while at NAIT, including the Colin Eicher Entrepreneur Bursary, awarded to students actively pursuing new ventures.
“I was able to dedicate the time and effort into creating a solid foundation for a product I hope helps people across the Prairies.”
That funding allowed deMilliano to focus on the studies that shaped Agricast and contributed to early-stage funding.
“I was able to dedicate the time and effort into creating a solid foundation for a product I hope helps people across the Prairies,” he says. What’s more, the technology was shaped by the hobby that started it all, and which continues to inform weather broadcasters across Alberta.
Now that he’s graduated and working, deMilliano has a sunny outlook on the future – though he does hope to encounter the occasional storm along the way.
Published March 22, 2018.
A version of this story originally appeared on techlifetoday.ca.