A free website is helping people across the Fraser Valley avoid wait times at businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.
Maple Ridge resident Mae Woods, 28, and Vancouver resident Pan Khantidhara, 31, collaborated to create Howbsy.com.
“I’m very happy that a start-up is coming out of Maple Ridge,” Woods, the Maple Ridge Secondary grad beamed.
“We wish we did do it sooner from all the feedback. We get dozens of emails everyday and it’s absolutely amazing – a lot of them are requesting a store and a lot of them are saying thank you,” said Woods. “Me and Pan just built the platform but it’s really the community helping each other because its 100 per cent crowd sourced.”
The idea for the website came after Khantidhara’s mom returned home frustrated from having to wait in long lines to enter businesses.
“She came home and she was really annoyed with how long the lines were and Pan, who is my co-founder is a software engineer, and she had the idea that maybe we can build a website to show the wait times,” Woods explained.
It took all of five days for Khantidhara to build the website and the pair officially launched it on April 24.
In its first week the website had 20,000 users, as of Monday it was up to 45,000.
“I live in Maple Ridge and it was very important to me to have all of the Fraser Valley,” Woods noted. “We have all of the cities in the Fraser Valley already added – all the way from Vancouver to Chilliwack and everything in between.”
So how does it work?
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“Anyone in the community can update the time, it only takes 10 seconds. While you’re waiting in line the hope is that you update the time, so other people who are thinking of shopping will get an accurate depiction of how long it will be,” Woods explained. “As we continue to grow we’re getting more and more updates… meaning it is more and more accurate, which is amazing to see.”
The female entrepreneurs continue to add more cities and businesses to the website.
“This project also can help people stay outside of their house as little time as possible to avoid people in the quarantine period,” Woods added.