Forget money — Alberta woman’s app lets you barter skills and services with your neighbours

Sam Blair does sugar waxing and photography, and she’s been informally swapping her services for years. 

“I remember specifically trading [for] eyelash extensions one time, something I would never have the money to pay for as a single mom, but I did agree to trade for it,” the Cochrane, Alta., mom said. 

“And I remember one time [chatting with] a client of mine who was an accountant, she’s like, ‘oh, I kind of wish I had something to trade.’ And I was like, hmm, you’re an accountant, I currently need an accountant, I will trade you something if you do my books!”

The idea of creating an online space to facilitate swaps had been in Blair’s mind for a while. So when the pandemic hit and she suddenly found herself at home with time to spare, she roped in boyfriend Matthew Fanning, who works in tech, to help realize her vision. 

HourTraderz launched Friday for iOS, and Blair said she’s hoping to add an Android version.

The mechanics of HourTraderz work a bit like a dating app — users set a location radius, and once they spot someone with a skill they’re interested in they can swipe right to connect with them or left to pass.

She said she feels the app could help everyone from moms looking for child care, to boutique business owners looking for influencers to help get the word out about their products.

Blair said everyone has some kind of talent or skill, and she wanted to create something different from apps like Facebook Marketplace, which are more about goods. 

“I did not want to have people on there trying to barter their watch, for you know, trading photography … I want it to strictly be people’s talents, skills, trades.”

Blair said since Friday, the app’s been downloaded hundreds of times. She hopes to grow the app, and hopefully attract investor interest soon.

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