Given that his presentation was to the MobileTech Summit 2013, a primary industry focused event, Andrew McPherson’s app analogy was very apt.
A tractor can be likened to a mobile device, the tool that is driven off the Power Take Off is the app says the chief executive of ‘Icestack’, and of ECONZ an Auckland-based 40 year old enterprise wireless provider.
“The apps that work best help achieve a single task very efficiently,” he says.
Speaking to over 200 attendees at the inaugural MTS2013 in Wellington, McPherson spruiked Icestack, succinctly described as a community-based app to directly connect with industry services.
Icestack’s a separate gig for McPherson et al as a technology to help people find and interact with good service providers.
(As an aside, ‘Experieco’, as the builders of Icestack are described as McPherson, ‘chief collaborator’, Philip Court, ‘big picture visionist’, and Nicky Lowrie, ‘agony aunt’).
It is about to be launched after a year’s perfecting – with America as its first major target market. From their own market research, there’s nothing that achieves this as quickly, easily and practically as Icestack (though of course he would say that!)
Icestack came about in the first instance when McPherson found it difficult to find a good plumber for a rural house he was involved with.
His team looked at somehow incorporating social media, though quickly found that sites such as Facebook “aren’t that good in a business sense.”
At the same time, searching for someone via the desktop isn’t that useful as many service providers aren’t present there as such.
Hence the solution goals the team came up with:
- To allow businesses or individuals to build a list of the service companies they regularly work with
- To be able to interact with the service companies to schedule work and get realtime updates
- To be able to share the list of companies with friends and clients
In designing the Icestack app, McPherson says they very much wanted to continue the real world way of doing things where, usually first, you’ll ask a friend or colleague if they know of a good carpenter (or plumber or fencer or whatever).
In other words people know other (good) people – and by being able to link these connections in a social media sense, an individual can tap into a wider service community.
“In a social-mobile world, social business communities will be the new business clusters,” McPherson says. “Businesses can and should band together to offer combined services in a geographic region.”
The combination of these ideas has resulted in a self-described app that allows people to “find, store, request, rate and recommend your favourite service providers.”
Icestack itself is a free android and Apple app for an individual end-user.
Where Icestack hopes to make its money is by providing it to service providers, who only pay (US$15/month) once they obtain six or more service requests through the app.
As McPherson described offline from MTS2013, Icestack is a ‘moonshot’ for the Experieco group.
The job is to as quickly as possible attempt to get the app to go viral, and not be one of the living dead among an estimated 1.5 million apps that have been developed in what is essentially less than half a decade.
Whether the app achieves a single task very efficiently, and individuals and businesses tell their mates about it – time will tell.