The Covid-19 pandemic halted and changed the entire world for human beings. There is not a single person on earth who can claim they were not affected by the greatest threat to health in the history of mankind since the Spanish plague. Unfortunately for us, the flu a century ago did not necessarily chart the course for us today.
As a part of the micro small medium enterprise (MSME) industry in the Philippines, the pandemic brought our livelihood and businesses to a standstill. As our losses mounted, we were forced to think of ways on how to pivot our businesses and adapt to the current challenges posed by the pandemic in order to thrive. The motivation to build a solution was very personal.
In the Philippines, there is no other platform more prevalent in the lives of the Filipinos other than Facebook. It is the most popular media among Filipinos; so naturally, at the height of Covid-19 people maximize the social media's marketplace to sell food products and deliver food services otherwise unavailable pre-COVID. The Facebook marketplace became dominated by food commerce. Understanding that other tradespeople must be as desperate as we are to fight for our livelihood and income, we saw the need for a separate platform for tradespeople and started on the idea of how to bring customers to them.
What it does
Lokalista.net is a digital yellow page of vetted skilled resources in a local area. The website name is a play of the Filipino bisayan dialect lokal meaning "local" and lista meaning "list". It provides a list of reliable and skilled local tradespeople in a direct and time-efficient manner.
One of the necessary measures undertaken to contain the spread of the virus is to restrict the movements of people. Thus, getting a reliable tradesman for simple household repairs like electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and others is a herculean job given that most areas in the Philippines have no digital platform for tradespeople. Consequently, with no foot traffic to their shops and businesses, job losses are in millions.
Lokalista.net fulfills both the needs of the customers and tradespeople. A platform for tradesmen to showcase their skills and workmanship, to connect with their existing and future customers, to help local tradesmen pivot to the digital age. A platform that can provide thousands of jobs to thousands of tradesmen.
For consumers, the platform provides important contact information to enable seamless connection, saving time, and probably guaranteeing safety in these fearful times.
How does the website work? In 3 easy steps:
- Contact & hire.
- Leave a review.
Imagine your car broke and you are stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Lokalista.net will provide you valuable contact information about the nearest automotive mechanic in your location so you can be on your way home.
No waiting. No bidding. No additional charges or commissions.
Simply leave feedback after to build the tradeperson's online profile and credibility.
How we built it
We employed various listening tools to get customer experience and complaints at the height of the pandemic. We also interviewed tradespeople and professionals on their challenges in service delivery to reach their intended customers. Further, we gathered baseline information on existing solutions and found that it does not truly address the need of tradespeople.
To act fast on our idea, we use Wix for its ease of use and functionality. Its adaptability and intuitive interface made it possible for our coder to build the website in days. Wix template is also perfect because it is mobile friendly as 97% of Filipinos access the internet through mobile phones.
Challenges we ran into
"Physically apart, virtually connected" couldn't be more apt to describe our three-man team. We built the website in 10 short days even if two members are based in the Philippines and only one coder who is living in New Zealand. To this day, we have not seen each other in years. We communicate, argue, and yes ---- ideate, through messenger, email and video conferencing. We are a team with different backgrounds and separate day jobs. Since it is our coder's first time to use Corvid by Wix, the rest of the team has to endure his countless fits as he struggled to build a robust website. Good thing that Wix has a forum based community that he can turn to when he needs help and guidance in using Wix code.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
The website is still a work in progress, but we are proud and excited that we were able to execute in ten days what was just a spark of an idea despite the fact that we were challenged financially and geographically. A lot of people have great ideas and compelling reasons to help others, but not everyone acts on it. Thanks to Wix and to the imagination and courage of the team, that spark of an idea will provide light for thousands of other Filipinos who lost their livelihood in this pandemic.
What we learned
We learned later on that there are similar websites abroad with millions of traffic monthly helping customers find the right tradesman for their needs. So we learned that our idea is not new to the world, but we also learned that this idea truly serves a need if other websites are successfully connecting tradespeople with their customers. We are not looking to compete in the world stage, we are looking to help the tiny community we live in. So we will continue learning and failing, we know that this journey is a marathon and not a sprint. That in the challenges we face in building this website therein lies our success.
What's next for Lokalista.net
The team is working on the following functions:
- Feedback rating system
- Internal dashboard for management
- Mobile application
- Tradesman login and dashboard
- Queue page for uploaded photos/details by tradesman and/or agent for webmaster/admin
Testing credentials please see details in slideshow