Winter is on its way, and for homeowners, the season comes with the responsibility of shoveling your driveway and clearing off your steps all by yourself.
To James Albis, dealing with snow is one of the biggest pains of owning a home, so he came up with a solution: a way to order snowplow service on demand through an app.
SnoHub, which Albis likens to the “Uber of snowplows,” works in a similar way to the ride-share service. The app connects homeowners to nearby contractors and alerts those contractors of snow removal needed in the area.
Once the contractor accepts the job, the homeowner can track the plower’s movements through an in-app map. When contractors arrive at each site, they take before and after pictures, proving the job is done, and then the homeowners pays for the service through the app.
SnoHub launched last year just in Fairfield County, Connecticut, where Albis lives. This winter, the service is launching in the Boston, New York City and Philadelphia metro areas, among others.
It wasn’t just clearing snow that inspired Albis but the way he’s interacted with snowplow contractors in the past. He has had frustrating experiences, he said, waiting hours for a plow to come to his house, being asked to pay in cash and not getting the job done completely.
“When you’re living in a tech world and all of a sudden you’re forced to step back 40 years ago, it’s a problem. … I said, ‘Clearly, there has to be a better way,’ and I looked at companies that have been disruptive, like Uber,” he said. “People this day and age only want to pay for what they use — they want to do things on their own terms, based on their own life, not based on when it’s convenient for a snowplow contractor.”
The contractors deployed through SnoHub are vetted through the company and verified to have the proper licensing, insurance and background. Albis said SnoHub is also giving people the opportunity to earn extra income in the winter.
“If you’re a painter, electrician, a firefighter — a lot of these guys have pickups and plows, and they want to earn some extra money,” he said. “By introducing all these new guys who are very idle in the winter time, we helped out so many different types of people last winter get through it.”
As with Uber, SnoHub does take a bit of the cut from contractors' pay: a 30 percent fee on transactions. For the homeowner, prices start at $59 for three inches of snow, increasing with every inch, and they can see the price estimate before they book their service.
Regular plow contractors will still have work, Albis said, because their business still comes from commercial accounts. By catering to residences, he’s hoping to make handling the winter more convenient for homeowners.