- Associated Press - Sunday, August 24, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Quick-delivery, to-your-door service used to be the domain of pizzerias and express package-transport firms.

The Internet and ever improving smart-phone technology are changing all that.

Now you can order a limo ride, cleaning service or a handyman without making a phone call. And starting this month, Indianapolis area residents and business owners can order up lawn mowing and snow plowing services the same way - through an app.

Syracuse-based Plowz & Mowz launched last November - just in time for one of the worst winters in recent memory - and already has expanded to 30 U.S. cities.

It has hired 14 Indianapolis-area contractors and is launching service here in mid-August. It will start by offering mowing services but plans to have dozens of plowing contractors lined up before the first flakes fly this winter, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1AdTE19 ).

Wills Mahoney and his former Syracuse University roommate Andrew Englander, both 31, co-founded the company to answer a common problem in the northeast.

Mahoney, who operated a small Syracuse IT firm the last eight years, said the idea for Plowz & Mowz popped into his head as he struggled to find someone to plow his mother’s drive.

“We get a lot of snow here, and you can never seem to find an available plow service when you need one,” Mahoney explained. “I thought we could use technology to solve an all-too-common problem.”

Mahoney and Englander worked with New York-based app developer Lamplighter Labs to come up with the software needed to power the company.

Local lawn care and snow plowing firms will have to react to Plowz & Mowz in the same way that local taxi cab and limo companies had to react when Uber and Lyft infiltrated the market last year, said Mark Hill, chairman of TechPoint, an Indianapolis-based group that promotes the state’s technology industry.

“They’ll have to improve their services,” said Hill, who is also an Interactive Intelligence board member. “If they don’t, they risk being left behind.

“There’s a real disruption going on in a lot of places with the integration of technology across so many service sectors,” added Hill. “This is a perfect example of that.”

Local taxi cab companies have tried to improve how fast they get to callers and have begun to launch their own cellphone apps to compete with Uber and Lyft. Employing the latest cellphone and GPS technology may not be an option for many local lawn care and snow plowing operations.

“A lot of those are smaller companies that don’t have the wherewithal to adopt technology like this,” Hill said. “But it will force existing service providers to figure out how they’re going to change to better serve their customers. They may have to improve customer relations, overall service, offer better pricing and better management of when they mow your lawn.”

Hill also thinks that if Plowz & Mowz technology proves effective, it could give rise to more lawn mowing and plowing service providers in the market. He said that could especially be the case with snow plowing, where “everyone needs it at the same time.”

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