It’s that time of the year again, when Boston gets battered by a seemingly never-ending wave of winter storms— nor’easters as they are known in these parts—which leave behind a fluffy-yet-remarkably-difficult-to-remove cover of snow everywhere. Yeti, one of the new “Uber for x” startups popping in the city, will take care of the snow removal for you.
Founder Chris Barry, currently a business consultant, got the idea for an on-demand snow removal service from his own experiences during last year’s “snowpocalypse.”
“Firstly, I thought ‘Why isn’t there a service for this?’’’ Barry said. “So I started building up some technical skills in app development [last January].”
After months of managing a full-time job and online classes on computer science and app-development, Barry’s brainchild, Yeti, brought Boston’s backs some relief by providing an easy-to-use app for those times when there is too much snow and not enough time to remove it.
“I was building the app as I was taking the classes, applying everything I was learning,” he said. “But, at first, I wasn’t too sure it was going to take off.”
For Barry, Yeti was nothing but a side project for a long time. The more involved he became with the development of this app, however, the more intrigued he was and the more people became interested in it. He finally believed that “he had something.”
The new app aims to match those contractors and freelance snow-plowers with individuals in need of the service, such as when someone tries to get to work, but their car is covered with snow.
“It’s something similar to Uber,” he said. “It’s not as difficult, [the app development] as long as you’re motivated and are willing to put in the time.”
The app’s website describes how the system will work in three steps: submit the location where you need the snow removed from, relax while the work is being done, and drive when the car is freed from the snow.
“The response has been phenomenal, [it] has changed my thinking on how we’re going to do,” said Barry.
When asked about the heavily seasonal nature of the app’s purpose and it plans for the rest of the year, Barry mentioned that he, alongside his two other team-members, are looking for ways to expand it to a year-long product.
“Depending on the feedback we get, it could turn into a full-time job in the future,” he said.
Currently the app is in the final stages of its heavy testing. Next week, it will go to Apple for its stringent review process, with Barry hoping that it will be short.
Last week, the large snowstorm that hit the Northeast reaffirmed his belief in the product, especially since New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio recently asked citizens of the city to remove the snow from public areas in exchange for payment. Barry sees that type of situation as an opportunity Yeti could take advantage of in the future.
For this winter, however, people seem really interested and receptive to the idea, as their early marketing campaigns have generated good responses from the public.
“A lot of the attention we have gotten has been self-generating,” Barry said. “This past weekend we launched our first heavy marketing campaign through Facebook.”
In regards to where the name “Yeti” comes from, Barry admits that the “Boston Yeti” that has been roaming the streets since last winter inspired him.
“It has a connotation of strength and brutality,” he said. “I think it will catch on.”
Featured Image by Chris Bary