A Cochrane, Alta., photographer has come up with a creative way for you to find help with child care, a massage or a manicure without having to hand over any cash, at a time when money is tight for a lot of people.
"You might not even necessarily have an idea of what you’re looking to trade until you see it," said Samantha Blair, the creative mind behind the app HourTraderz.
"The concept behind HourTraderz is just facilitating a networking connection between people with skilled services and talents to be able to trade with other people that are looking for something that they may have to offer."
Users set a location radius and can swipe to connect with someone offering a service they are interested in.
"I thought the idea of this dating app style of a trading app would be really cool and I couldn't find anything out there like that, that would be able to be connecting me to people looking to trade something, I might have," said Blair. "You can see if I’m a photographer and I’m swiping for a hairdresser, if she’s also swiped right on me we will instantly connect and be able to chat."
Blair said she has informally been trading her skills for years, which gave her the idea for the app.
"I was a single mom at the time and I was trading for certain things that I wanted but couldn’t necessarily justify or afford," she said.
The app also offers an opportunity for networking and the chance for small business owners to connect with social media influencers, she says.
"It's such a good fit for us because in this economy marketing dollars are hard to find, and businesses are struggling with where to spend their money these days," said Ciara Ramsden, co-owner of Flirt Cosmetics Studio and Brow Bar.
"If you can pair with a really great social media marketer and trade a service for that influencer, that has huge value to us as well."
Since the app launched in October, 1,600 people have signed up.
"I joined the app just to really get to know other business owners in the area because I'm fairly new to the region," said Heather Vanek, owner of Cochrane Osteopathy & Wellness Centre.
"A lot of people don't have benefits because you'd have to pay for that out of your pocket. So in this sense it gives you a little bit more access to all sorts of things like massage and osteopathic care."
Users will be able to determine if the exchange will be dollar for dollar.
Blair said people are getting creative, offering IKEA furniture building, dog walking and even a listening ear.
"If you feel like you don’t have something to offer, just look deep within yourself I guarantee you do have something."
New features are also in the works including browsing for services and the ability to see who has liked you, she says.
Right now, HourTraderz is only available on the Apple store, but an Android version is planned.