Set your location, set your radius, ask a question, and wait for the responses to come rolling in. Review, rate, and repeat.
That’s the simple philosophy behind a new app, AsQ, created by two Buckinghamshire brothers, Imran and Irfan Arif, which helps users find local services and advice within their neighbourhoods.
Users can select from a numerous job-type categories, ranging from children’s party organisers, to boiler repairmen or women, cleaners, pet-sitters, plumbers – even legal advice.
Anybody signed up to one of these categories as a service provider, provided they are within the specified distance range, will receive a push notification to their phones, and can then decide to pitch for the job, quoting rates, completion times, distance to travel etc.
All the user has to do is select which provider to hire, based on the detail supplied. When the job is complete, the user is asked to review the service, creating a rating system for subsequent users to take advantage of.
“The important thing is that this app puts you, the person seeking expertise, in control, forcing service providers to come to you rather than the other way around”, says Imran, 26, a chartered accountant.
His brother, Irfan, 29, is a lawyer who was inspired to develop AsQ after a consultation with a client who was frustrated at not being able to receive an answer to his questions right then and there, which would have saved him time and money.
“There seemed to be a gap in the market for a platform which gives you access to people with the expertise you seek in real time. Google does not meet that criteria, and neither does Facebook, and there are no similar apps to ours out there.”
After a soft launch in their home town of Chesham, which the brothers say “was beyond what we expected – the people using all loved the idea and how simple it is to use”, the plan is to try to roll out the service nationwide.
“We hope to have many downloads and people signing up, because the more people use it, the more information can be shared”, they say.
The best startup ideas start simple, and although it is not necessarily the only service of its kind on the market (think Bizzby, Fiverr, TaskRabbit), it’s easy to see the potential. Why research and chase 5 photographers, electricians, kitchen designers (depending on your requirement) and evaluate each offering separately when you can simply put the word out that you are looking for a particular service and wait for the offers to come to you – all in the same format?
Those responding through AsQ gain a competitive advantage simply by demonstrating they are pro-actively looking for work, and jump right to the front of the queue. If they gain a favourable rating, they increase their chances of finding repeat business. What’s not to like?
The key to the success or otherwise of the app, is traction. Can the brothers’ reach a critical mass of service providers prepared to sign up, or will users become frustrated sending messages into the ether, and receiving only a handful of unsuitable replies?
That is the challenge every startup faces – it is said that the best strategy in this respect is to focus aggressively on one local market and ensure it is fully penetrated and working as well as it can be, before moving on to the next. Conquer Bucks, in other words, and the platform has been established for a full assault on the Metropolitan line, from Amersham to Aldgate.
Whilst startup failure often brings closure and lessons to learn from, success, on the other hand, brings a whole new set of problems, in this case dispute arbitration, payments, technical glitches, but with the wind in their sails, you sense these could be the kind of problems the two brothers might relish tackling.