SkillGarden.ca

After breaking their pressure washer and getting repair advice via video chat, Maizal Munif and Sherrilee Franks have retooled SkillGarden.ca to match people who need help with people who can help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It all started with a busted pressure washer.

While in social isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maizal Munif and Sherrilee Franks of Kelowna thought they might as well do some spring cleaning, which was to include pressure-washing the car.

However, shortly after getting started, the pressure washer broke.

“Normally, when something like that happens we’d just go out and buy a new one,” said Franks.

“But, with the coronavirus and social distancing, I didn’t want to go to the store, so I started asking friends on Facebook if they could show us how to fix this thing via video chat.”

The pressure washer got fixed and the car washed.

The scenario also gave Munif and Franks a brilliant idea.

Three years ago, Munif, a web app developer, created SkillGarden.ca, an online platform to match students with mentors.

In fact, SkillGarden.ca won the 2017 Startup Weekend Okanagan contest for high-tech ideas.

SkillGarden.ca was still in the development stage and saw limited activity.

“But the platform was there and we were able to quickly pivot to create a new SkillGarden.ca for this time of COVID social distancing,” said Munif.

“Just go to the website and register if you need help or can offer help. Matches can connect by video chat. It can all be done with your smartphone.”

The old SkillGarden.ca encouraged face-to-face meetings for students to get help from mentors with everything from math homework to a job search, snowboarding or fixing a car.

“The new SkillGarden.ca is video chat with a social aspect while social distancing,” said Franks. “It encourages getting help locally, camaraderie, and it’s interactive because it’s live and you can watch and ask questions.”

And it’s free.

Munif and Franks felt it was important the help be free in these times when many people are feeling the financial pinch.

Of course, you can go to videos on YouTube any time and get free help with virtually anything, but you can’t interact and ask questions of a recorded YouTube video.

That’s where SkillGarden.ca has an advantage. It’s live, interactive and you can ask questions.

With people in quarantine due to the novel coronavirus, one of the biggest categories of help offered on SkillGarden.ca is running errands.

People are willing to do grocery shopping and delivery, drug store shopping and delivery and dog walking for those stuck at home in voluntary or mandatory isolation.

But you can also seek help to fix almost anything, or get advice on planting a vegetable garden or even how to cook.