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Startup Deploys On-Demand Snowplows for Northeast Winter Storm Stella

As snowstorm Stella sweeps across the Northeast, startup Plowz and Mowz has a solution for people who don't want to shovel their driveways. (Credit: CNN)

As snowstorm Stella sweeps across the Northeast, startup Plowz and Mowz has a solution for people who don’t want to shovel their driveways.

The on-demand app lets customers order a snowplow directly to their home.

“We’ve had jobs done in as little as five minutes,” cofounder Wills Mahoney told CNNTech.

The startup has more than 1,500 on-demand snowplows in some of the cities hit hardest by Tuesday’s storm, including Boston, Syracuse and Rochester. It expects to do over 2,000 jobs today, and Mahoney said many have been completed in about 30 minutes.

Users can get a price quote through the app or online, and they get push notifications when the job has been accepted, when the driver is on the way and when the service is completed.

Pricing is different in every market and depends on the size of the job and the amount of snow. In Tuesday’s snowstorm, customers can expect to pay $50 or more.

“During a snowstorm, you cannot get a plow provider on the phone because they’re out doing their seasonal contracts,” cofounder Andrew Englander said. “What we realized is we can make it much more efficient.”

The idea for Plowz and Mowz came after Mahoney’s mother was snowed in after a big storm in Syracuse, New York, three years ago. She asked him — unsuccessfully — to get her a snowplow.

“I called everywhere. Not a single person picked up the phone,” Mahoney said.

The app taps into professional snowplow drivers who are on their usual routes — they’re able to fit the on-demand jobs in between their seasonal contracts.

Sixty-five percent of homeowners have never hired a landscaping professional, Englander said. Plowz and Mowz’s goal is to convert the “do-it-yourselfers” to on-demand customers.

The startup, which launched in 2014, has more than 3,500 snowplowers and landscapers in over 30 cities, including Chicago, Cleveland and Denver. It also offeres on-demand landscaping services like lawn mowing and leaf removal.

On-demand snow plowing is appealing for consumers who would rather “wait and see what the season brings” rather than sign a seasonal contract, according to Martin Tirado, CEO of the Snow and Ice Management Association, a nonprofit trade group.

Tirado noted that Plowz and Mowz isn’t the only one in the space. Other startups such as Touchplow and Eden also provide on-demand snowplowing, while Plowguys offers route optimization and Shovler does snow removal.

But Tirado said some of Plowz and Mowz’s biggest competition comes from people who prefer to clear snow themselves.

“Their other biggest competitor is snowblowers. People who say, ‘You know what I’m not going to pay for a service. I’m going to go to my hardware store … and pay the money [for] a snowblower and do it myself.”