Pretoria-based HelpOut is in the process of piloting an on-demand app that allows users to search, select and engage with service providers such as plumbers, electricians and handymen in their own area.
HelpOut, which is free for consumers to use, began its pilot in October of last year, and will launch a commercial version in June charging service providers to list on the platform.
The app – available on Android and iOS – connects local consumers with local businesses anywhere in South Africa with the use of geolocation technology. Managing director Francois Briers told Disrupt Africa HelpOut had already seen over 1,000 downloads of the pilot version of the app.
“Users are able to view a short overview of the business, select the one they wish to use and request a service or book a special offer,” he said. “With special offers, consumers are able to navigate then directly to a store, and service providers are able to accept your request and then navigate to your current location.”
Briers came up with the idea for the service having experienced the inefficiencies of finding a local electrician.
“I researched the market and noticed you mostly find gaming or social media apps. There are so many apps connecting people on a social level, but almost no apps connecting people on a business level other than tedious directory apps,” he said.
“Geolocation has been a big trend over the last few years, and I wanted to leverage off this technology to make life more convenient with a useful app. At the time of our launch, there was no other app, according to our research, that connected consumers with service providers like plumbers.”
Since its launch, the HelpOut team has expanded rapidly to cater for further support in sales, marketing, business and app development. It has been self-funded thus far, with Briers exploring both government and private sector funding to provide a springboard for the commercial version of the app.
The updated version, set to be released in June, will focus on improved functionality and on three three key features for users to connect locally, namely Specials, Loyalty and Services.
“We are currently operating in South Africa, with our growth focus firstly being on Gauteng and Western Cape,” Briers said. “Once we are well established in South Africa, we will look at expanding internationally.”
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