Like so many great ideas, it started with annoyance.
Maple Ridge native Mae Woods was on the phone with her friend, software engineer Pan Khantidara, talking about how frustrated the latter’s mom was with waiting in massive lines to do her errands in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an instant, the pair decided to build a website that would let people know what they’re in for when it comes to the waits outside grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, hardware stores and liquor stores.
On Sunday (April 19), the concept for Howbsy.com was born. Khantidara spent most of last week building the site and had it ready to go live on Friday. Woods, who has a marketing and PR background (she works with Vancouver messaging app Kinzoo), got an interview aired on Global TV at 11 that night.
Since then, Howbsy has been expanding rapidly. As of Monday morning, the site had seen more than 10,000 visits and listed about 38,000 stores across the Lower Mainland. That number will only grow: Woods estimates that they can get a new business on their platform within 10 minutes of someone requesting it.
The pair have also added recycling depots to the list of things people can report on the wait for. “We realize that’s another point of stress for people waiting in that long line, especially the one in Maple Ridge; it’s crazy,” Woods says with a laugh.