The alarm clock’s buzzing, but you don’t want to move. You already know what’s out there. That doom-and-gloom weather guy’s prophecy came true and your driveway is buried under a mountain of hell powder.
Yeah, yeah, it’s Minnesota. It snows a lot. But that doesn’t make donning the parka at 5:30 a.m. to shovel the driveway with frozen tears on your face any easier. Plus, you played the shoveling card the last time you were late for work.
Fortunately, it’s 2015 and an app can make those wintry mornings suck a lot less.
“Everybody can relate to being stuck when it’s 18 degrees with a shovel in your hand,” says Andrew Englander, co-founder of Plowz & Mowz.
The on-demand snowplowing and lawnmowing service hit the Twin Cities in pilot mode at the tail end of 2013. In a sense, the app is like the Uber of the snowplow world. With a couple taps, a plower will swing by and rid your driveway of cold white stuff. The app stores your credit card info, so there’s no cash required and it gives you a quick estimate and updates on when Mr. Plow will arrive. Users can schedule a time in advance or book an ASAP plowing, which Englander says could take 45 minutes or more. When the job’s done the plower will send a picture of the cleared driveway. Those without an Android or iPhone can sign up via the company's website.
The Syracuse, New York, company now has hundreds of drivers in its Twin Cities fleet — four times more than it did last year — covering a 15- to 20-mile radius around Minneapolis and St. Paul. Prices vary based on size, but a driveway six to eight car lengths long and three to four wide might run about $35. Prices could increase during “incredibly inclement weather” when jobs take longer to complete, though it’s only happened once since Plowz & Mowz came to town, Englander says.
The company was hatched after Englander’s partner and college roomie Wills Mahoney got a “frantic call” from his mother during a gnarly Syracuse snowstorm. Grandma’s driveway was buried, but they couldn’t find an available plow to save the day and many companies require seasonal contracts. Ultimately, mom had to dig her out.
“We thought ‘Wow, there has to be a better way,’” Englander says.
After talking with Mahoney’s plow-guy cousin, they devised the Plowz app with the aim of connecting plow companies with people who want the occasional job without winterlong contracts. This year they added the “Mowz” component — lawnmowing and leaf removal service.
The founders, who have tech backgrounds, see the service as a boon to small businesses (unlike UberX, Plowz and Mowz only deals with established companies). The idea is that drivers can pick up extra jobs along their normal routes when folks want to give their backs a break.
Or simply stay in their PJs longer.