Have you ever thought that you would like to hire someone for their services, without working through a company? For example, maybe you need someone to move a couch from the first floor to the attic. Or you need a pet-sitter, handyman, personal trainer, painter, or even a tutor. The apps that are available for these types of services – such as Angie’s List or Thumbtack – source from businesses and companies, or are at best, hybrids. But there is one app called Helpt that is launching in Buffalo that is different because it’s based solely on a peer-to-peer network concept.
The benefits of this network are primarily twofold. First, enlisting the help of a ‘hungry’ individual means that he or she is essentially working for him or herself. That assumedly equates to being more motivated to get out and work, while building up ‘star’ points in the process. And for the homeowner that is retaining the services of an individual, there is more flexibility since the individual is not beholden to a rigid workforce structure. The Helpt worker is able to engage one-on-one with the person that retains his or her services, instead of jumping through any managerial hoops to get the job done. Dealing directly with a hands-on person has its advantages.
The peer-to-peer structure is what sets Helpt apart from the rest of the on-demand apps on the market, according to Clarke Thrasher (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – RPI), who founded Helpt along with Matthew Cavanaugh (University at Buffalo).
“The software can help you with anything – tutoring, or landscaping, or if you need to hire a babysitter. Some would refer to us as the ‘Doordash of services,’ says Thrasher. “The app was created to enable the everyday citizen to earn a wage, no matter their skillset. Helpt is here to combat the post-pandemic workforce inefficiencies and help spark the US economy. Launching in the Buffalo, Helpt plans to make an immediate impact on the Western New York economy our first year.”
Currently, Helpt is 40+ days into its beta phase, as the team monitors the interactions. Thrasher and Cavanaugh are outsourcing development for the short term, but with the help of their CTO, Aryan Kini – a whizkid based in New Jersey – they are looking to bring the tech side in-house as soon as possible.
“We are launching with 15 preliminary categories,” says Thrasher. “Many of these are considered low barrier to entry. Everyone needs help at some point. These are people who want to show up to work, because they are essentially working for themselves and building up their ratings on the platform. We’re here to help everyday people – teachers, cleaners, landscapers, writers – who have some extra time on their hands to apply themselves and make some money in the process. We’re establishing a community of people who are stand-alone entrepreneurs.”
Thrasher told me that to ensure that people are qualified, dependable, and trustworthy, they run background checks on everyone offering their services on the app. On top of that, similar to other service oriented platforms, there are star ratings and client reviews. The harder people work, and the more dependable they are, the higher their ratings. That translates to more jobs. And if anything goes wrong throughout the process, the Helpt team will help to resolve any grievances, to make sure that both parties are happy.
“At this point, Buffalo is our Holy Grail,” said Thrasher. “We are building momentum here, with 422 helpers and 590 clients on the site. Once again, we are in our beta phase – we launched the site with a small circle of friends and family. We’re college students, so we’re gritty. We also understand where we need to get to, to be a universal app.”
Down the road, Thrasher and Cavanaugh want to branch out to food delivery and ride sharing. They also believe that there is a Helpt Commercial launch in the future, which would directly compete with a broader range of on-demand service apps.
In the meantime, look for your motivated friends, and neighbors-in-need (of Helpt) coming together to tackle a variety of service-oriented tasks, while building a reliable community of doers in the process.
Get connected: helpt.app | Available on Apple Store and Google Play