Building a Better Tide App

Tides Near Me, launched in December, shows users information for the closest ports using government data
Randy Meech demonstrated Tides Near Me, an application he created for fishermen, at his Shelter Island house recently. Carrie Ann Salvi

   Randy Meech, a resident of Shelter Island and Brooklyn and an avid fisherman, has recently developed an application, Tides Near Me. He usually uses his management and engineering skills to develop applications for large Internet-based companies. This, however, was seen as meeting a need, and so he took it on.
    Tides Near Me, launched in December, shows users information for the closest ports using government data. It is available on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android for all English-speaking countries and has consistently been ranked among the top downloaded tide applications at the iTunes Store, Mr. Meech said in a recent interview. It is usually in the top 20 among all free weather applications, he added, and sometimes it is in the top 10.
    He is also working on an app that will be able to alert its users to the best time and place for fishing by incorporating “machine learning practices” to track fishing results by remembering tides, currents, overall weather data, and locations of catches. It could be folded into Tides Near Me, he said.
    Users have a choice of a free app with advertisements, or no ads for $1.99. Mr. Meech makes more money from the free application, he said, thanks to Google ads. Mr. Meech, who is 39 and has a master’s degree from Harvard University, is no stranger to that process, having worked for Google in various capacities for five years, including keyword analysis.
    Working with “U.S. government data is the hardest part,” Mr. Meech said of the challenges his tide app faces, and this is why it doesn’t list an ocean tide for East Hampton.
    Mr. Meech is a programmer who has custom-built systems for himself and others for many years. To “thoughtfully combine product development with sophisticated technology to build products that are interesting and uniquely useful” is what he does, according to Smita Saran, a former employee of Mr. Meech’s who endorsed him on the LinkedIn Web site.
    Third from the top as a senior vice president for AOL from 2009 through 2011, Mr. Meech managed more than 100 engineers throughout the world and performed large-scale restructuring to “modernize applications and software development practices,” including MapQuest. He was hired as the first engineer for Patch.com, taking charge of building the startup site and preparing its technology for a massive traffic flow.
    Mr. Meech said he enjoyed contributing his expertise to building community-based software that he thought would also help local journalists. Although the East End has good newspapers, he said, “most communities don’t.” Despite the recent announcement that 400 Patch.com sites will be shut down, he said he remains hopeful for its future.
    One of Mr. Meech’s specialties is hiring and building teams, some of whom he has taken to his Shelter Island house for off-site work as well as group meals and hiking at the Mashomack Preserve.
    He has lived on Shelter Island with his wife, Donna, since 2009. Mr. Meech, who grew up in Boston, loved Cape Cod as a child. He said he drove “every inch of the coastline” searching for a weekend house, but grew especially fond of the North Fork. He then decided on Shelter Island, he said, “as soon as I got on the ferry.”
    He and his wife enjoy eating out at Sweet Tomato’s or at the SALT Waterfront Bar and Grill in the Island Boatyard, which is within walking distance of their house and is where his friend docks the boat he fishes on. He has recently caught stripers, fluke, and bluefish, which he said he loves to smoke. “Last week I caught a weakfish,” he added excitedly.
    On the drive out east, the couple will stop at North Fork farm stands to prepare for nights of cooking at home, which also involve produce from the Shelter Island Farmers Market. One recent personal project is caring for his new 15-week-old puppy, Libby.
    Work-wise, with Tides Near Me behind him, another big job is no doubt in Mr. Meech’s future, and he looks forward to the challenge.