UR alum runs Uber-like snowplow business

Posted in Rochester Business Journal by Gino Fanelli

One of the most integral parts of being a Rochesterian is the breaking out of shovels after an overnight of snow and more snow. Some take pride in straining to getting their car out of the driveway after a particularly rough snowfall, while others admit defeat, call into work and hibernate until the thaw comes.

Having a plow service on call is another option, and James Albis, founder and CEO of SnoHub, wants to make that process even easier. SnoHub is billed as the Uber for snow removal. From the mobile app, SnoHub customers are able to connect with contractors, settle on pricing for exact services and schedule when the contractor will arrive. SnoHub is in its second season in the Rochester market and is available nationwide in 32 markets, including Salt Lake City; Boise, Idaho; Denver; and Calgary, Alberta.

Albis, a University of Rochester Simon Business School alum, operates out of Westchester County. “The idea stems for me as a problem I personally faced as a homeowner when I first purchased my first home. … I didn’t know what to expect,” Albis said. “I went through my first season hiring a random contractor, didn’t know who the heck he was, and I just started to realize, season after season, after getting a variety of
different contractors, it was unreliable service.”

One of the biggest problems Albis saw was the lack of reliable appointments. Contractors would show up when they showed up, which often meant the driveway would go unplowed for unacceptable stretches of time. And it’s not always the contractors’ fault. When a storm hits, the closest properties are always going to get February 18, 2019 preferential service. SnoHub offers a solution by being able to schedule appointments ahead of storms, or at the very least, allow you to keep track of when your contractor is arriving.

“I understand that these guys (contractors) get overwhelmed when it comes to snow. Everybody does when it starts to snow,” Albis said. “The solution didn’t really stem from looking at the existing contract and trying to get them to quickly get out there and take care of the property, but it was trying to introduce a whole new gig economy workforce.”

The “gig economy,” like Uber, Lyft, GrubHub and so on, is a system that, when someone needs a job done, the app serves as an intermediary to connect with people willing to do the job. Contractors at SnoHub can be pretty much anyone from an actual plow truck driver to college kids with snow shovels looking to make some spare cash. A ontractor arriving at a property takes a picture before and after and receives payment
in 3-4 days.

“The supply side was completely stretched to the limits when it came to snow, and it still is,” Aldis said. “What we’ve allowed people to do is get in there, to use the equipment they have to make extra money, whether it’s a snow blower or just a shovel.”

With over 30,000 active users, SnoHub is planning on expanding into other areas of property maintenance as well as continue expansion across the U.S. and Canada. “My anticipation is to continue to grow organically and rapidly,” Aldis said. “We’ll be in every single market that there is snow in a meaningful way.”

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