We were inspired by the difficulties faced by small businesses in getting enough customers, particularly those which provided home services like plumbing, due to the coronavirus pandemic. These services are usually very hands-on, and thus we wanted to create a service that would allow small businesses to gain publicity in these difficult times.

What it does

We provide a recommendation service, including COVID-19 safety ratings as a feature, on the side of the client, giving greater weight to contractors and small business service-providers who were given positive ratings provided by friends. Clients are able to search for contractors, receive recommendations, and pay and rate contractors on the website. On the side of the contractors, we provide a note-taking interface and transaction log, along with a profile page to update categories of service.

How we built it

We built the back-end based on Django and the front-end from HTML, CSS, and Javascript. The Square Payments API is integrated in our Payments tab. The code is available in our GitHub repository.

Challenges we ran into

We were unfamiliar with the Square API, and had not built a complete website from scratch before. We utilized datasets from Yelp ( to train the AI recommendation model; constructing the model to weight COVID-19 ratings (for the purposes of this demo, a ratings column in the Yelp dataset) while incorporating user friendship relations and geographical boundaries was took thought. We ran into several errors and conflicts along the way, but eventually succeeded in building our complete product.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We’re proud of completing the basic features that we identified on the client and contractor sides of our website, a service that will provide benefit to boosting contractor reputation to combat the decline in business brought on due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What we learned

We learned how to build a full-stack web app, complete from end-to-end, and honing our development skills.

Business Model

We hope that SmallTalk’s revenue model possesses user stickiness. By enabling contractors to connect with clients, our service offers contractors additional business while simultaneously reassuring clients that their choices are sound, by leveraging their friends network. In return, SmallTalk would take a small portion of the payments clients send to the service application via the “Payments” tab, and is responsible for transferring payments to contractors in a timely manner.

What's next for SmallTalk

We hope to add additional features to our recommendation model and host our website for public use. Please find directions on running the application at our GitHub repo’s README (

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