A new app in its prototype stage is already helping residents in Lunenburg County find everyday services.
The Plzfinder app launched in the Apple Store on March 6 and had 30 downloads almost two weeks later. Mona Crisostomo, Hazelle Mahinay, Ken Martinez and Lehcel Tacda, who are originally from the Philippines, developed the app after their own struggles of finding services in the area.
"The first time we came here to Nova Scotia, we had a very hard time finding services around," said Martinez. "With moving and coming to a new province, you're in a new community. We had trouble finding services such as a mechanic."
The four friends-all of whom are nurses-moved to Bridgewater in the summer of 2019. Martinez bought his first second-hand vehicle and needed to find a mechanic, which is where the struggle began.
"We knew there was a need for a service app where you can search easily for services you're looking for," he said.
Tacda says it was Martinez's idea, with the team starting the planning this past December. While they all have ideas and some knowledge, none of them are in the tech world.
"We needed an expert to develop the app for us," said Tacda, adding they outsourced the development of Plzfinder to a friend in the U.K.
"We can see an everyday need" for services, added Martinez. "Every day, especially on Facebook, we can see people posting stuff like they're looking for people to remove snow from the driveway. The only people that can suggest are those who are friends with him or her, and sometimes it's not the best deal you can get."
Upon downloading the app, there are two options to choose from-a user or a service provider. The latter are able to add in their own information, such as services offered, their education or experience in the field, as well as price range for their services.
"We're just giving them a platform to use to connect people with service providers," said Martinez.
Users are able to rate the services they've received from providers within the app, and leave reviews. There's also an option for a user to add those service providers to a "team" where they're easier to access.
Crisostomo says their goal is to have each household in Lunenburg County download the app.
"It would be very beneficial for everybody," she said. "We do know ... the majority of the population is older, but there's usually always somebody (in the household) with a smart phone. That's who our target is."
Because it's still in the testing stage, the app only features services available in Lunenburg County. However the team plans on continuing with the app if all goes well and feedback remains positive.
"If we're going to build onto the app, we're going to expand and scale out, not just here in the province, but it could be globally," said Mahinay.
Once the app makes it past the prototype phase, Martinez said it would be available on all operating systems and the team is looking at making it more of a social media platform for service providers.
"They can post their works, people can follow their profiles. Social media features is what we're thinking, so people can not only find good service, but learn from people that are the experts or five-star service providers."
He said service providers would also be able to provide videos for users to watch.
Currently, services such as laundry, hair, plumbing and a driver-for-hire can be found on the app, with more to come.
"It's more of the basic services we need on a day-to-day basis," said Crisostomo.
To learn more about the app or the team, visit https://pleasefinder.com/home. The team keeps a blog featuring a variety of topics, as well as their own experiences in the community.