A computer programmer since the age of six, entrepreneur and political aspirant Colin Lee is addressing a widespread pain point in need of remediation: affordable, efficient and environmentally friendly localized services.
Building on his technology background — from Cray to Pearson VUE — combined with learning experiences gleaned from a recent campaign run for State Representative of District 36A in Lakeville, he sees opportunity in helping neighborhoods, communities and cities organize their collective wallets to level the playing field around recurring expenses like trash, landscaping, remodeling, etc.
In response, Lee commenced development this past fall on Hoodbid, a Drupal software platform which enables consumers to engage via Facebook Connect and rally around a business cause. The idea is for each online community to identify which commonplace residential needs to target, build a critical mass of bargaining leverage, and in effect, lobby for volume discounts. To begin with, Hoodbid’s primary focus is centered around trash and recycling services, “an area in need of innovation,” as he calls it. “It’s about cost savings as much as it is pollution,” he declares, touching on an era of consumer awareness and empowerment in the business sense.
I smell disruption in an archaic market prone to monopolization.
“I’m already getting some pushback — not directly — but the service providers have been difficult to communicate with and are resistant to change,” he says in response. “This is a reflection of something that average people have always had trouble managing and negotiating on an individual basis. The way Lee sees it, there are two inevitable options for those less than willing to adapt: “Win the neighborhood or lose customers.”
From Google Groups, Yahoo, Facebook — and other neighborhood forums, people have been organically coming together online around shared local interests since the dawn of the web. Engaging hyperlocal audiences around commerce is definitely the trend (and for obvious reasons), but there’s real challenges ahead for Lee in creating substantial awareness and ensuring that the system works effectively in a way that will meaningfully benefit all parties — including his own desire to monetize the service through contextual advertising.
Hoodbid is currently recruiting community organizers, service providers and constituents for beta testing in Lakeville, beginning now through summer.